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Physical Education and Health 
Reading Room 

Gift of 
Waiter Lanier Barber 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 

Esquire's First Sports Reader 

i ' 




Edited by 




This book is fully protected by copyright 
and nothing that appears in it may be re- 
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•wholly or in part, for any use whatever, 
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Second Printing (before publication) , March, 19^5 
Third Printing, May, 19 £5 

This volume has been manufactured in 

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Foreword by Herb Graffis 

Are Wrestlers People? Westbrook Pegler 
The Astonishing Mr. Tilden, Vincent Richards . 
Wrecking the Records, Dean B. Cromwell . 
Fairway Queens and Rough Cats, Walter Hagen . 

I Couldn't Take It, Abe Simon 

Baseball's Thirteen Best Batters, Billy Evans . 
Hockey Flashbacks, Howie Morenz ..... 

Luck Goes to Bat, Ford Frick 

The Iron City Express, James R. Fair .... 
On the Blue Water, Ernest Hemingway 

A Living from Tennis, George Lott 

Remembering Shooting-Flying, Ernest Hemingway 

Di Maggio, the Man, Will Connolly 

How to Take Golf Lessons, William Scott Stewart 
Learning Good Golf by Sense, Ben Hogan . 
How to Be a Successful Duffer, Henry McLemore 
The Time of Ruby Robert, Edgar Lee Masters 
Johnny-on-the-"Spot," John S. Getchell 
Football's Greatest Backfields, Clark Shaughnessy 
Basketball or Court Game? Nat Holman . 
Parallel Skiing vs. Stem, Otto Lang .... 
























vi Contents 


In Defense of Parallel Skiing, E. Fritz Loosli .... 152 

Belles of the Ball, Herb Graffis 160 

Horse Champions of this Century, Robert S. Dowst . . . 168 

Here They Come, Sherwood Anderson 174 

The Esquire Sports Poll 

"Long Count Fight," Herb Graffis & Ralph Cannon . . 180 

The Army-Navy 1926 Football Game, 

Herb Graffis & Ralph Cannon 188 

Go When the Going Is Good, John Alden Knight .... 199 

Football's Fifth Column, Hermann B. Deutsch . . . . 206 

Dorais, the Mighty Mite, Dale Stafford 219 

Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong, Paul W. Kearney . 226 

So Take It Easy, Sanderson Smith. . . . . . . . 239 

One Second to Make Up Your Mind, George Halas . . . 246 

Modern Sporting Rifles, Monroe H. Goode 255 

Is Basketball a Killer? Marshall Diebold 264 

Bet Against the Experts, Robert Saunders Dowst .... 267 

Cock Doom Makes Everybody Equal, E. Jerome Vogeler . . 274 

How to Case a Trout Stream, Paul Zimmerman .... 283 



from the pages of the past ten years' publications of Esquire, 
yarns and articles have been gathered into this all-star sports 
literary line-up. 

As is usual with any all-star or ail-American selection this 
accumulation is subject to the criticism of Monday morning quar- 
terbacks and bleacher managers. Some character who spent the 
happiest three years of his life in the sixth grade of grammar school 
will growl that the compiler of this anthology "don't know from 
nuttin' " because the complainant's pet piece was omitted. 

But as long as the fellow paid for his book, let him yowl. The 
yowl is part of the great American game. 

As was pointed out by the distinguished former sports writer, 
Quentin Reynolds, who was the Democratic party's Clare Booth 
Luce in the 1944 presidential campaign, it is the freeborn Ameri- 
can's privilege to criticize the umpire. If the critic's pet sport is 
marble shooting or hunting the ferocious water buffalo with a rub- 
ber-band and paper clips and we haven't chosen a piece on his 
favorite pastime, he'll question our judgment. And why not? No- 
body in this country is compelled to vote "jah." 

One reason for the critic's complaint may be that the piece he 
especially wanted to read wasn't printed in Esquire. As "The Mag- 
azine for Men," Esquire has the broadest and liveliest sports cover- 
age of any magazine of large circulation. On that account, prob- 
ably, the male citizen who vaguely recalls a sports piece that he 
wants to read again in settling an argument, or for his cultural 
good, writes to Esquire, asking that the article be located and sent 
to him. He is positive we ran it. Usually we had. 

Turning the pages of bound volumes of Esquire in search of 
those loosely described literary items, particularly in response to 
the requests of servicemen, was one of the reasons for printing this 
book. This book helps avoid work. Our deep conviction is that in 
enabling the mortal to avoid work, or to masquerade work so that 
it becomes fun, sport performs its holiest function. 


viii Foreword 

Another reason for this collection of Esquire sports pieces 
which have scored heaviest with its readers is, confidentially, to 
make money. The writers and athletes whose literary art appears 
in these pages are all gentlemen who make very handy use of what 
the patois defines as "scratch" or "moola." Some of the artists rep- 
resented in these pages (especially Hemingway, Pegler and Hagen) 
reek with funds. Hence their art is on a plane virtually above sordid 
gain. Their royalties from this book will take a sharp bounce past 
their waiting hands and will be scored as hits for the collectors of 
internal revenue. 

But enough of invasion into the personal affairs of our authors. 
Such piling, after all, is merely in the nature of those dressing- 
room sports stories which Charles Dunkley, the merry mandarin 
of the Associated Press sports staff, calls "jock-strap interviews." 
The best of such are written far, far away from the interviewee. In 
the present case, Hemingway, Pegler and Hagen may be regarding 
the income-tax man as less celebrated scribes represented in this 
book consider the grocery-man — just another one of the boys who 
is catching a perfect game. H 

There is more than a suspicion that some stories in this collec- 
tion eventually may be catalogued as classics. You don't get mas- 
ters of the Hemingway-Masters-Anderson order ruled off the track 
by literary critics because the subject these articles happen to be 
treating is sports. Homer, Plato, Virgil, Walton, Steele, Hazlitt, 
Byron, Hugo, Thackeray, Byrne, and Shaw took their literary 
swings at sports in jobs that are by no means the least of their 

Sport is compact drama and sprightly poetry. In all sports 
there is the conflict element of the literary plot, even when the sport 
is man vs. fish. The fish may not be in a belligerent, hungry, or 
nosey mood. He may think of his sporting opponent as merely a 
trusting chump who tosses a tiny hook into water constituting about 
70% of the earth's surface, expecting that a smart fish would be 
silly enough to choose that particular area for sinking a barb into 
its palate. That's drama. But if the fish aren't biting, sport is 
poetry. The blue skies, the rippling water, the caress of the breeze 
on your face make you philosophically indifferent to the contempt 
of the fish. 

The basic appeal and the vast latitude of sport made it the 
subject of one of the earliest books printed in English. The 

Foreword ix 

scholars say Dame Juliana Berners, Prioress of Spowell Nunnery, 
wrote a treatise on hawking, hunting, fishing and other field sports 
which eventually was published in I486 in the Boke of St. Albcms. 
In the records the good dame's name variously appears as Berners, 
Barnes, and Bernes, thus establishing her as a true sportswriter. 
Many of her male successors have had trouble with spelling, al- 
though most of them did not stay so close to her precedent that 
they were unable to spell their own names, even when slightly stiff 
or more so. 

From Dame Juliana to Henry McLemore and others of his 
ilk is a goodly stretch, but with more improvement registered than 
is in evidence in many departments of human endeavor. You could 
go to sleep reading Dame Juliana's Treatyse of Fysshynge with cm 
Angle even if Helen of Troy were sitting in your lap and turning 
the pages. 

_Clark Shaughnessy giving you a close-up of the dream back- 
fields that came true, James R. Fair telling you about the rugged 
and rambunctious Harry Greb, Billy Evans taking you to the 
plate with baseball's thirteen best batters, Howie Morenz disclos- 
ing the inside of hockey's melees, and Vinnie Richards relating pre- 
viously untold details of the Tilden saga, are stirring and au- 

These writers, and the others whose observations of the sporting 
scene appear in this collection, take you with them into the fas- 
cinating realms of sport and provide you with food for debate. For 
even after the results are in the headlines, the sports competition 
continues and what-might-have happened-if gives the fans chances 
for playing the game or fighting the fight in retrospect and second 

But why be too serious about any part of the sports story? It's 
ill in fun, and what other benefits the sportsman receives are a 
3onus. Certainly one of the most profound sports pieces written 
luring the life of living man is Westbrook Pegler's "Are Wrestlers 
People?" Yet, in our opinion, it's the funniest, and it shows the 
aughing boy's sunniest artistry. Peg writes circles around Lucilius, 
vho also wrote some pertinent remarks about the grunt ers, some 
;wo thousand years ago. 

Anyway, here's the collection of Esquire sports stories many 
mve asked for, so enjoy yourself with it. 

Herb Graffis 

Esquire's First S poets Reader 

Are Wrestlers People? 


Jcmuary, 19 3 h 

Often, as I have sat at the ringside, watching the great, 
hairy lumps of living meat spank, throttle and wring one 
another, it has occurred to me to wonder whether wrestlers 
love and are loved and whether they really suffer. Or are they, like 
the fishworm, incapable of emotion and insensible to pain? 

Perhaps I am wrong in assuming that the fishworm has neither 
sentiment nor senses but I do assume as much because it spares my 
conscience on those rare occasions — the last one was in 1926 — when 
I string him on the hook. I did have a twinge of misgiving some 
time ago when I read in a sporting-goods catalogue of a device for 
luring the fishworm from his hole in the ground. This was an elec- 
trical apparatus, something like a tuning-fork, which, being jabbed 
in the ground near the worm-hole, uttered a faint mooing note and 
brought the male, or bull, worm charging out of the soil with his 
neck arched and his pulses pounding in his veins. 

It suggested that the fishworm might have depths after all and 
that we might all be mistaken in our easy belief that because he 
does not quack, bark or snarl, he doesn't know he is being ill- 
treated. Maybe he is just reticent. There are New Englanders like 
that but we call them canny. 

It would be very unchivalrous, I think, to impose upon the most 
beautiful sentiment of all in any of God's creatures with the siren 
call of love to seduce him to his doom. This, moreover, is quite aside 
from the moral aspect of the matter. Sex is something which Nature 
has implanted in all of us and in its proper relation to life is a very 
beautiful thing. But I would call it most immoral to inflame the 
fishworm's passion by artificial means even though we did not string 
him on a hook but merely left him there, bothered, bewildered and 
breathing hard. 

The wrestler is a strange organism. It has certain character- 


2 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

istics which must test the conviction of the most confirmed Funda- 
mentalist, suggesting that 'way, 'way back in some rocky cave all of 
us were wrestlers. It walks on its hind legs, it can be trained to 
speak and understand and Mr. Jack Curley, the promoter of wres- 
tling shows, once had one in his herd which could cook a good 
dinner. However it cooked only one dinner for Mr. Curley. 

He was entertaining a party of friends at his home in Great 
Neck, Long Island, that night and his wrestler had cooked pheasant 
for them. During the meal, Mr. Curley remarked to the lady sitting 
next to him that his cook was a wrestler. 

"Oh, I would like to see it," the lady said and Mr. Curley, 
clapping his hands, cried, "Wrestler ! Come heren sie !" 

That was Mr. Curley's way of addressing this wrestler. It was a 
German. When he wanted the wrestler to go down-stairs he said, 
"Wrestler! Down-stairsen sie" and when he wanted it to go up- 
stairs he said, "Wrestler ! Up-stairsen sie." The ablative, you know. 

So when the lady said she would like to see the wrestler which 
had cooked the dinner, Mr. Curley clapped his hands and called, 
"Wrestler ! Come heren sie !" 

The kitchen door opened and the wrestler entered. It was wear- 
ing a pair of wool wrestling trunks and sneakers. Its hide and the 
fur on its chest were moist. 

"Wrestler," said Mr. Curley, "dinner is very good tonight." 

"Jah?" said the wrestler, puckering its face in an appreciative 
grin and blinking its knobby ears. "Fine. But boy is it hot in that 
kitchen. Look how the sweat runs off of me." 

Many a night at the ringside I have heard laymen sitting in the 
forward rows explain to their ladies that the punishment which 
wrestlers inflict on one another really does not hurt them as they 
are used to it and cannot feel, anyway. This is of a piece with the 
assumption that the fishworm cannot feel. I am not sure that it 
is true. 

The fishworm wiggles and squirms when it is put upon the hook 
and the wrestler trumpets terribly and whooshes and writhes when 
it is being twisted in the ring. This may only mean that some vague 
intuition, such as turtles possess, is telling the wrestler not to go 
over on its back. Yet the wrestler is so amenable to training that it 
is comparatively easy to teach it to recognize a signal and, in viola- 
tion of a strong natural instinct, to roll over on its back momen- 
tarily after thirty or forty minutes of wrestling, while the referee 

Are Wrestlers People? 3 

gives its adversary a slap on the shoulder signifying that it has won 
the contest. 

The word contest, of course, is merely a trade term. Most of the 
minor politicians who constitute the various prizefight commissions 
and supervise wrestling do not authorize its use in connection with 
wrestling bouts. They insist upon calling them exhibitions and the 
newspaper boys who cover them call them mockeries or make- 
believes and refer to that thirty or forty minutes of action which 
precedes the fall as the squirm. 

Wrestling is the one hazardous occupation in the sport depart- 
ment of journalism because wrestlers are vindictive in a dumb way 
and one never can tell when one of them will pick up another and 
throw it at a correspondent sitting at the ringside. Moreover, after 
one has seen a few squirms one has seen them all and consequently 
one is likely to doze off during that time when the wrestlers are 
putting on the squirm. One learns to gauge these cat-naps and 
come out of it just in time for the signal. 

But the wrestler may resent this as an affront to its art and 
retaliate by heaving 250 pounds of moist and rather smelly weight, 
usually foreign matter, into the journalist's lap. I have seen as 
many as six journalists mown down by one wrestler thrown in this 
manner and had a very exciting evening myself once when I made 
a mistake at the ringside. 

One wrestler was sitting on top of another and, with the dumb 
concentration of a trick baboon untying a shoe-lace, was twisting a 
large, bare foot. 

"Hey, wrestler!" I cried, in honest error, for they were badly 
tangled up, "you are twisting your own foot." 

At that the wrestler let out a loud howl of "Ow-oo," thinking 
that if it was twisting its own foot it must be hurting itself, and 
let go. But it happened to be the other wrestler's foot after all and 
when the first one let go the other one jumped up. 

This enraged the wrestler who had been twisting the foot and 
six times that evening it threw the other one at me with intent to 
inflict great bodily harm. But, fortunately, though it had plenty 
of swift, its control was bad. So nothing happened to me, although 
the New York World-Telegram was hit twice and the New York 
Times's typewriter was smashed. 

The fact that wrestlers utter sounds of apparent anguish does 
not necessarily prove that they really feel pain. They are trained 

4 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

to that, too. In former times they wrestled without sound effects 
and these were introduced in recent years by Mr. Curley who hired 
an expert in bird-calls and animal cries to instruct the members of 
his herd. At first the wrestlers made some ludicrous mistakes and 
one sometimes heard a wrestler twittering gayly when it was sup- 
posed to bleat piteously. 

As to whether they love and are loved I just have no way of 
knowing. Maybe so, though. Hippopotamuses do. 

The Astonishing Mr. Tilden 


August, 19S7 

The usual morning practice session had been called off and 
the entire cast of the Tilden tennis troupe was assembled in 
Bill's room. The latest flood extra was being shouted in the 
street below. Bill was at the telephone, a map spread out on the 
floor at his feet. 

No, there were no trains leaving Mobile. No, it was impossible 
for a plane to take off. "We'll have to drive, then," said Bill, grab- 
bing the map. "And Baton Rouge looks like the only place to get 
over." He was at the phone again. Yes, you could get over at 
Baton Rouge. You must hurry, though, because the river was 
coming up pretty fast. But we had a match to play in the after- 
noon at the Mobile Country Club and we played it, under leaden 
skies to a small crowd. 

We were lucky enough to get over at Baton Rouge that night 
and we kept right on driving night and day, stopping only for 
meals, until we got to St. Louis a few hours before we were sched- 
uled to play there. I was able to get a couple of hours sleep but 
Tilden beat me badly that evening. You can't play decent tennis 
after driving 1,700 miles that way. That is, you can't and I can't. 
Three of us had taken turns at the wheel of one car and Bill had 
driven the other car all of the way himself. Of course he hadn't 
done any sleeping in St. Louis before the match. There had been 
business to attend to. 

This guy is astounding. Not just because of his endurance and 
the way he can play tennis at forty-four but also because of the 
way he lives, the things he does and the amount of money he earns 
and spends. He is eternally busy, always on the go, every day from 
the time he gets up until the last rubber is counted up and he has 
paid off. He was always broke but there always seemed to be more 
where the last came from. We were doubles partners when I was a 


6 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

kid. He amazed me then. I toured the country with him last winter 
and he amazes me more than ever. 

When I first met Bill, in 1916, he was holding forth on the 
porch of the Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia where I had gone 
to play a match as a member of a boys' team representing New 
York. In those days he was referred to generally as one-round 
Tilden because he was beaten in the opening round of almost every 
tournament. Yet even then he was attracting attention, on the court 
and on the porch. It is hard to put your finger on what it is about 
Tilden that has always made him the center of attraction. It isn't 
what the correspondence schools call personal magnetism, for even 
when he was king-pin at Forest Hills and Wimbledon he wouldn't 
have won a popularity contest. 

After my match he told me that he thought I had the making 
of a good player and the following year, after beating me in a 
tournament, he asked me to be his partner in the national doubles 
tournament the next summer. We practiced together that spring 
and won the doubles championship at Boston in 1918. 

Tournament tennis was an expensive pastime but Bill could 
afford it, and in style. His father, who had been active in Phila- 
delphia politics, had died a few years before and Bill lived with two 
aunts who must have indulged him lavishly. He descended on 
Boston in a high-powered car, engaged a suite of rooms at the 
Copley Plaza and lived with a flourish that became the envy of 
other players. About this time he acquired his mania for bridge and 
began making contributions to the corps of experts who follow the 
tennis circuit. After a hard day's tennis he would spend the evening 
either at cards or driving his car over the countryside at break- 
neck speed or at both. 

Our doubles championship was the first important title Bill won. 
He was too wild that year to be a really fine player and his brother 
Herbert, a better player than Bill in those days, used to nag him 
to stop trying to knock the cover off the ball. But Bill played the 
way he wanted to. He had made up his mind that he was going to 
be national champion and he was always practicing. He would go 
out in the morning and play eight or nine sets and then play a 
couple of tournament matches in the afternoon. 

The following winter Bill absented himself from tournament 
tennis and went into intensive practice on the private court of 
Jed Jones in Providence. Jones was in the insurance business and 

The Astonishing Me. Tilden *7 

Bill was working up leads for him. One of the policies he brought 
Jones was from John McCormack and amounted to half a million 
dollars. He was also writing regularly for the Philadelphia Public 
Ledger and getting together material for a book. But mostly he 
was playing tennis, practicing incessantly, and during the course 
of that winter he brought his game up to true championship level. 

The new stadium at Forest Hills was waiting for Bill Tilden. 
Only a champion of his color could have filled the stands, for 
tournament tennis was not as popular then as it is now. 

Tilden gave tennis fans a show no tennis player had given 
before. Next to being tennis champion of the world the ambition 
fondest to Tilden's heart was to be a great man of the theatre but 
his several attempts on the stage had resulted only in damaging his 
pocketbook. Now, as champion, he had an outlet for his histrionics. 

Most tennis players who perform with one eye on the gallery 
not only lose but make asses of themselves, but with Bill it is 

Ever since there have been linesmen I suppose tennis players 
have glared at them when they didn't agree with their decisions 
but it remained for Tilden to elevate the procedure to an art. He 
transfixed the blundering official; he craned his neck at him, and 
sometimes he would merely smile and that hurt most of all. The 
whole gallery loved it. 

The crowd rarely agreed with Bill but he could excite them at 
will. Even when playing a dub in the first round he gave the audi- 
ence something for its money and, incidentally, made the dub feel 
good. He usually permitted his early-round opponent to take a 
long lead in each set and then he would put on the pressure and 
come from behind. The gallery loved that. 

During tournaments where the players do not live at the club, 
special rates are always available to them at some first-class hotel 
in town, but Bill never patronized the designated hotel. He has 
never been a snob by any means but he has always, to a certain 
extent, held himself apart from the contingent. His scale of living 
was higher than that of most players. At the death of his brother 
he inherited a small fortune from his father's estate but money 
doesn't stay with Bill for long and the time came when he was 
dependent on his writing for most of his income. He had a yearly 
contract with the Ledger syndicate for $12,000 a year and at the 
same time I had one with another syndicate that was good for 

8 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

$8,000. It was by doing this writing that Bill and I were able to 
play tennis the year round — to be first-class tennis bums. But the 
United States Lawn Tennis Association suddenly decided that an 
amateur should not report on tournaments in which he was com- 
peting. I think that rule was the beginning of big-time professional 

The Tilden exchequer was in bad shape when Bill decided to 
turn professional but I believe the fact that the French had beaten 
us in the Davis Cup and Lacoste and Cochet were on the top of 
the heap had a great deal to do with his decision. Bill was no longer 
head man and he insists on being the main attraction. 

Within six months after leaving the amateur ranks Tilden had 
netted $100,000 by making movies and playing matches under the 
banner of Jack Curley. This money that is made right after an 
amateur turns professional is the cream and what he makes after- 
ward comes hard in comparison. That first money is a good thing 
to hang on to. It's because Vines hung on to his that he is sitting 
pretty now instead of scrambling for dollars. But Bill didn't keep 
his long. Tilden Tennis Tours, Incorporated, an organization he 
formed to subsidize players and take them on a world-wide tour, 
consumed it and Bill was broke again. 

Well, Bill went right on playing tennis, writing articles, play- 
ing bridge, racing around the country in fast cars, and living in 
the style to which he was accustomed. He organized a group of 
players small enough to handle himself and when things went sour 
here he took a ship to Europe, recouped his fortunes, paid off his 
debts, and came back for another crack at American barnstorming. 

When Tilden tours he is happiest. It is his troupe. He is the 
star and the impresario. He is the boss and he is also the tempera- 
mental leading man. Rehearsal at ten sharp and bring two rackets. 

His entourage last winter consisted of three tennis players (as- 
sorted), one secretary (who takes the part of straight-man), one 
ball-boy and one truck driver. One of the tennis players was on a 
flat salary of $200 a week and transportation ; the other two took 
a percentage of the net. The secretary got $150 a week and trans- 
portation, the ball-boy $50 a week and expenses, and the truck 
driver $85 a week and expenses. Add to this $75 a week for truck 
expenses and another $100 for gas and garage for the two passen- 
ger cars. 

Bill maintains no checking account and the percentage hancb 

The Astonishing Mr. Tilden 9 

are paid off after every match in cash. The other help receives 
cash once a week. And Tilden always pays off. After a couple of 
lean takes the help is inclined to be a bit jumpy but Bill never wor- 
ries and he soothes the boys with a prediction that the crowd will 
be good in the next town. It usually is. 

After several days of lean picking, we played in Miami to a 
good crowd and Bill's own profit amounted to $1,800. Sums of 
this magnitude present a problem to Bill when no immediate dis- 
bursements are necessary and on this occasion discussion took place 
between Tilden and his secretary over the handling of funds. 
Neither of them wanted to carry $1,800 around in his pocket. 
Tilden supplied the solution: they would get travelers' checks. A 
couple of days later when there was the matter of a hotel bill in 
St. Petersburg, the secretary reminded Mr. Tilden that Mr. Til- 
den had taken the checks unto his own care. Well, that had been 
three days ago and the hotel bill was paid out of the gate receipts 
from the St. Petersburg match that afternoon. 

Where does the money go? Almost all of it goes for things you 
and I wouldn't spend important money on. All the time he is away 
a suite at the Algonquin Hotel in New York is under lease to Bill. 
Tilden's own hotel bills are staggering. An hour after checking in 
he has usually run up telephone charges of fifty to a hundred dol- 
lars, calling up people in New York, California — sometimes Eu- 
rope. He eats three-dollar breakfasts and buys them for other peo- 
ple. He sends telegrams and cables by the ream. He will lose 
seventy-five dollars at an evening's bridge. He doesn't drink; he 
never has. He wears the same suit of clothes for a year. He spends 
his money on the thousand and one things that comprise his life — 
a life of constant activity in avenues most of us don't consider im- 

Bill's income this year should be something over $50,000 and 
this is the way it will come to him : 

He will get $5,000 for the use of his name on tennis-rackets, 
$1,000 for the use of his name in connection with a tennis string, 
$1,500 for sponsoring a shoe, and about $3,000 for various testi- 
monials. He will receive $7,500 for writing syndicated newspaper 
articles. His profit from the winter tour and from matches against 
Perry will be about $15,000. This spring he will make a European 
tour during which he will compete for and win prize money in Eng- 
land and France and the prizes, together with what he makes at 

10 Esquire*s First Sports Reader 

exhibition play, will amount to $10,000. Later in the summer he 
intends to make another Japanese jaunt with a guarantee good 
for $7,000. 

Tilden has never spoken on the radio. He believes that there is 
a considerable radio public awaiting him and he is holding out for 
the right contract. When the contract that pleases him shows up 
he will have another source to tap and I hope it comes right along 
so that Bill will have something to do in his spare time. 

Wrecking the Records 


Track Coach, University of Southern California 

March, 1934 

Frequently there comes to our ears mention of "the good old 
days." Usually it is impossible to deny remarks about old 
times or to make definite comparisons because of changed 
conditions. In football, for instance, many are firmly convinced 
that Heffelfinger, Eckersall, Jim Thorpe, and other colorful stars 
of the past were far superior to our present crop of All- American 
players. Perhaps this is true and perhaps it isn't. There is no way 
of knowing. However, there is one sport where comparisons may 
be made, and that is in track and field athletics. When it comes to 
running, jumping, and tossing weights, we have records which 
prove the young men of today far superior to those of the past. 
The records admit of no denial, and the conditions under which 
they were made are not materially changed. 

Let us look over a few of the world's records of 1884 and com- 
pare them with those of fifty years later. 

In 193& the Xth Olympic Games saw the greatest orgy of 
record-breaking ever to occur in a single year, and many other 
startling marks were set up in 1933. One is bound to wonder where 
it will all stop. It is interesting to note the improvements of our 
day and then to consider what may be the records of the future. 
In 1984 will our present marks seems as ridiculous as do some of 
those of fifty years ago? Can it be that athletes of days-to-come 
will be as much faster than Wykoff and Metcalfe as the latter are 
faster than J. P. Tennant, first sprinter to run one hundred yards 
in ten-second time? The utmost limits of athletic endeavor can only 
be guessed at, but I am going to do a little conjecturing as to the 
records of the future. 

American fans are most interested in the dashes, particularly 
in the century. It was in 1890 that J. Owen of the U. S. ran the 



Esqxtire's First Sports Reader 

distance in 9.8 seconds, thereby gaining the honor of being the first 
man to break even time. Twelve years later Arthur Duffy made 
it in 9.6 and it was then unanimously agreed that no one could ever 
surpass this remarkable performance. However, a number of others 
equaled it and finally, after stop-watches graduated to the tenth 
of a second were introduced, Charley Paddock was credited with 
9.5. Then in 1930 Frank Wykoff ran two races in 9.4. He was 
caught unofficially in 9.3 by most of the official timers at the 
national A. A. U. meet of 1931. Now Ralph Metcalfe has been 
credited with 9.4 during the past season and becomes Wykoff's 
successor as the "world's fastest human." Furthermore it is said 
that in 1906 an American professional named R. P. Williams ran 
in 9 seconds flat (with three watches on him) and in 9.2 seconds 


1884 Record 


1934 Record 




100 yds 

220 yds 

880 yds 

1 mile 






23 ft. l^in. 


43 ft. 5 in. 

120 ft. 

J. P. Tennant, Eng. 
and others 

L.E.Myers, U.S. 
L. E. Myers, U. S. 

W. G. George, Eng.. . . 

M. J. Brooks, Eng 

F. L. Lanbrecht, U. S. 







26 ft. 2^ in. 

*53ft. lJ4in. 
189 ft. 63^in. 

F. Wykoff, U. S 

R. Metcalfe, U. S 

R. Metcalfe, U. S 

Ben Eastman, U. S 

Ben Eastman, U. S 

C. Hornbostel, U. S 

J. E. Lovelock, New Zealand . . . 
Geo. Saling, U. S 

120 yd. hurdles 

Broad jump.. . . 

High jump 

Shot put 

Hammer throw 

Geo. Keller, U. S 

C. Nambu, Japan 

W. Marty, U. S 

F. Douda, Czechoslovakia 

P.J.Ryan, U. S 

* Not yet adopted officially by the International Committee. 

several other times. 9.2 is certainly a real possibility and 9 flat 
may be accomplished officially by 1984. 

There are three things of prime importance in sprinting, the 
start, running speed, and the finish. So far no speedster has ever 
excelled in all three. When such a man comes along he will be 
clocked in nine seconds even. 

One of the best records of 1884 was Lon Myers' quarter-mile 
in 48.8 seconds. In 1900 this was reduced a full second by Maxie 
Long, and in 1916 Ted Meredith took it down to 47.4. Then the 
sports world was electrified when Ben Eastman, of Stanford, cut 
another full second from Meredith's mark. Ben also clipped off 
the half-mile in 1 :50.9 for a new world record. Eastern critics 
could not believe such times possible and western timers came in 
for much scorn. Then came little Bell Carr of Pennsylvania to 

Wrecking the Records 13 

horrify western fans with three wins over Ben in times of 47 flat 
for the quarter, and 46.9 and then 46.2 for 400 meters, the last 
a new record for the distance. And this past year Jimmie LuValle, 
a sophomore at the Univ. of California at Los Angeles, ran 400 
meters in 46.9 at the I. C. 4A meeting, while Charles I^ornbostel 
of Indiana tied Eastman's mark for the half-mile. Later, in the 
Olympic 800 meter race, Tom Hampson of Great Britain beat 
Eastman's time of 1 :50 for that distance by two-tenths of a second. 
When 1984 rolls around these records will have been lowered 
perhaps to 45.5 and 1 :46 for the quarter and half respectively. 
This race is gradually becoming more of a sprint and may go even 
below the figure mentioned. 

In 1882 the British runner W. G. George, greatest star of 
the past century and still a hale and hearty track enthusiast at 
the age of 77, set a new amateur record of 4 :19.4 for the mile run, 
and in 1886 ran a race in 4:12% at Lillie Bridge, London, after 
turning professional. This last is comparatively the best mark made 
by any runner of the 19th century and was not beaten until 1915 
when Norman Tabor of Brown bested it by a fraction of a second. 
Then in 1923 Paavo Nurmi set up a time of 4:10.4. Again it was 
said this would never be beaten, but Jules Ladoumegue of France 
ran in 4 :09.2 in 1930 on a slow track and without being extended. 
Finally 1933 brought a number of truly amazing races, Glenn 
Cunningham of Kansas running the distance in 4:09.8, while 
later Jack Lovelock of New Zealand defeated Bill Bonthron of 
Princeton, both men beating the old record easily. The New Zea- 
lander was clocked in 4 :07.6. 

The great Nurmi always claimed he could have run the mile in 
4 :04 if he had specialized on the distance and it is quite possible. 

In all these races form is a secondary consideration to speed 
and endurance, but style is more important when it comes to hur- 
dling. A hurdler formerly skimmed the barriers with legs tucked 
up under him, but A. C. Kraenzlein of Pennsylvania at the end of 
the last century learned to clear the obstacles with his leading leg 
extended. This revolutionized hurdling style and thereafter the 
records came tumbling down. Kraenzlein ran the high hurdles in 
15.2 in 1898, and others gradually lowered the mark until George 
Saling, 1932 Olympic champion, ran in 14.1 in the 1932 national 

14 EsauiRE's First Sports Reader 

intercollegiate meet. This time was then equaled by George Keller 
of Ohio State in the 1933 Big Ten meet. Fourteen seconds flat 
may be reached almost any day now, and 1984 should find it re- 
duced about another second. 

In the field events form again is very essential, and with a study 
of form the records have improved considerably. In 1884 the record 
for the hammer throw stood at 120 feet, having been made with 
an actual sledge-hammer on a wooden handle. The present wire 
handle and round ball simplified matters considerably and then 
it was discovered that one, two, and finally three turns or pivots 
of the body gave additional distance to the throw, and a collection 
of Irish giants named Flannigan, McGrath, and Ryan boosted the 
record until it reached the present figure, which has stood since 
1913. Today it is threatened. Dr. Patrick O'Callaghan, winner 
in both the 1928 and 1932 Olympics, has an unofficial mark of 193 
feet. McGrath once threw 192 feet in a meet, but was denied a 
record because there was no steel tape at hand with which to make 
the measurement official. Some Goliath will perhaps send the record 
up to 210 feet by 1984. 

The 43-foot 5-inch shot-put record of 1884 is hardly good 
enough to place in the average collegiate dual meet of today, but 
it was not until 1909 that gigantic Ralph Rose, who stood six feet 
six and weighed over 300 pounds, tossed the leaden pellet fifty-one 
feet. Previously shot-putters had depended entirely on strength 
and agility, but Rose studied his event and learned proper meth- 
ods. He gained a good three feet by holding the shot well up on 
his fingers instead of in the palm of his hand. Rose's record stood 
until the 1928 Olympics, when three men broke it. Today Zygmunt 
Heljasz of Poland holds the official record and Franz Douda of 
Czechoslovakia, Kalle Jarvinen of Finland, Emil Hirschfeld of 
Germany, Lyman (Stanford) and Brix (formerly of Washington 
U.) and Jack Torrance (La. State U.) all have marks of approxi- 
mately 52% feet. Leo Sexton, Olympic winner at Los Angeles, has 
an official measurement of 53 ft. % in. pending. By 1984 improved 
form should have raised the mark to 58 feet. 

High- jumping is a pastime indulged in by all races, and stories 
have come from Africa of natives who jump eight feet, though this 

Wrecking the Records 15 

is no doubt from some springboard takeoff. Fifty years ago M. J. 
Brooks of Great Britain held the record of 6 feet 2% in. No one 
really solved high- jumping technique until Mike Sweeney, now 
coaching at Pottstown, Pa., developed a style by which he cleared 
the bar with his body almost parallel to the ground. In 1895, 
Sweeney reached 6 ft. 5% in., and his record stood for seventeen 
years. Then a still different style was developed known as the 
Western roll, best exemplified by Harold Osborn, who set the 
present official mark of 6 ft. 8^4 in. in 1924. A change in the 
specifications of the jumping standards so that the bar may be 
knocked off either forward or backward led many to believe Osborn's 
mark would never be equalled, but it was broken indoors by George 
Spitz of N.M.U. and Walter Marty of Fresno State College has a 
mark of 6 ft. 8% pending approval. I have heard that Spitz has 
done six ten in practice. Many present-day jumpers clear six and 
a half feet and another inch or two may be added to the record 
at any time. Osborn leaped ten inches more than his height and 
if some tall jumper like Parker Shelby of Oklahoma, standing seven 
inches over six feet, can do proportionately as well even more than 
seven feet is possible. Shelby had the spring to do it, with proper 

The Japanese Chuhei Nambu now holds the world records in 
both the broad jump and the hop, step and jump. 

The broad jump record of 23 ft. 1% i n « in 1884 has gone up 
considerably since then. Twenty-five feet was first reached by the 
Negro jumper E. 0. Gourdin, and another Negro, Silvio Cator 
of Haiti, was the first to clear twenty-six feet. I see no reason 
why the mark should not go to twenty-eight feet in another fifty 

There are several other events on the usual athletic program, 
some of them not contested fifty years ago. In javelin-throwing the 
Finns won the first three places at the Los Angeles Olympics. 
Matti Jarvinen, the Olympic champion, has come up to 249 feet, 
the mark in 1908 being only 180 feet. It would seem that 260 feet 
is well within the bounds of possibility and I suspect the record 
of 1984 will be well beyond that figure. 

The ancient Greek sport of discus-throwing was revived with 
the modern Olympic Games. It would be most interesting to know 

16 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

how those old-timers compare with the moderns, but no records have 
survived and they used disci of other weights. The record estab- 
lished by Paul Jessup of 169 ft. S 7 /s in. has been approached by 
a number of throwers recently and soon should be extended to 175 
feet. Fifty years more of competition should see at least ten feet 
added to that distance. 

Unlike discus-throwing, the pole vault is a comparatively modern 
event, with its greatest development coming in the past few years 
since the introduction of bamboo vaulting poles. The first Olympics 
in 1896 were won at 10 ft. 9% in., a height which would not even 
place in high school meets of today. At Palo Alto in 1932 Bill 
Graber of Southern California astounded onlookers by negotiating 
14 ft. 4% in. in the national try outs for the Olympic team, and 
photographs show him clearing by several inches. This indicates 
that fifteen feet may be expected in the immediate future. 

I have stated that athletes of today are superior to those of 
yesterday and will be inferior to those of tomorrow. Such a remark 
needs some qualification. It is doubtful whether there is any great 
difference in strength, in endurance, or in speed between men of 
different periods. Athletes of today run on tracks somewhat su- 
perior to those of the "good old days," but the main difference and 
the real reason for better records is in the mental viewpoint and 
in advanced methods. Ten years ago champions in the 440-yard 
dash thought in terms of fifty seconds for the distance. If they made 
such speed in training they considered it sufficient and then did 
slightly better in competition. Nowadays athletes who are essen- 
tially no better performers aim to run in less than 49 seconds in 
practice, having been convinced they can do so, and consequently 
reach less than 47 seconds in meets. The same is true of sprinters. 
Only ten years ago a 9.8 second runner was a real star. Today 
such speed is reached by many high school boys and the answer is 
largely mental attitude. There has been some betterment in training 
methods, particularly for long distance runners. Here the Finns, 
led by Nurmi, have developed new theories which are evidently 
superior to the old methods, though we in America have failed to 
adopt them. In hurdling and the field events a study of form has 
led to great improvement. With these changes in mental attitude 
and y in style the champions of today would easily defeat those of 
yesterday, if they could meet. But there are a few exceptions. 

Wrecking the Records 17 

George, for instance, certainly must have been in a class with our 
great milers, and Maxie Long rates with Eastman and Carr. 

Fifty years ago all the world records were held by men of Eng- 
land and the United States. Now world marks are held by men of 
many different races. Tomorrow will bring new stars from every 
section of the globe, with a very considerable improvement in all 
the records. 

Fairway Queens ana Rougn Cats 


August, 193 h 

One golf article that never will be written is one that some 
men want to read about women's golf. They have the idea 
that women stars purr very contentedly when everything is 
lovely in competition but always will unsheath their claws and 
scratch, spit and snarl when another tabby is padding her way 
closer to a trophy. 

If that were true it would be very gratifying to the noble 
nature of man. It would permit him to smirk benignly from beneath 
his halo of sportsmanship at women who let the mother instinct 
for cuddling a winner's cup to their bosoms over-rule traditions 
of fair play. The days have departed when knowing males expect 
a women's championship to be something like a tong warfare with 
a few added features like an incendiary fire in a foundling's home. 
The smart girls have acquired a competitive temperament that is 
so case-hardened to even the most adept of the tabby touches that 
there have been very few championship matches in the last few years 
that have been played with claws instead of clubs. 

But there have been some incidents in big-league women's com- 
petition that provide the male with a foundation for his suspicions 
that all is not sweetness and sunshine in the women's tournaments. 

One of the favorite weapons of feline attack has been the rules 
of golf. Women know the rules and observe them far better than 
men. The woman who trifles with the rules, through ignorance or 
hope, doesn't have a chance to get away with it. I recall one case 
concerning a rather wealthy woman who had as her guest and 
traveling companion during several tournaments another woman 
who was not in the same fortunate financial state as her hostess. 
The luck of the draw finally brought these two together in a hotly 
contested match. As the match got closer to its finish the sweet 
friendship of the two dears perceptibly puckered. On the seven- 


Fairway Queens and Rough Cats 19 

teenth green Lady Bountiful, who was one down, accidentally moved 
the ball a fraction of an inch while addressing a putt. It plainly 
meant a stroke penalty under Rule 1£, but even then she had a 
possible win in sight for the hole and an almost certain half as she 
was within three feet of the pin in three, counting the penalty 
stroke. Her opponent was six inches closer, but was lying four. 

Before Lady Bountiful could continue with her putting, her 
companion in previous joys said in that poisonously tender tone 
of a woman intent on deft dirty work: 

"Dearie, that ball moved. It counts." 

The other woman straightened up and glared furiously. She 

"I'm counting my strokes. Are you?" 

The knife had gone into a vital spot of the putter's nervous 
system. She was shivering like a hula dancer as she bent over her 
putting. She putted a yard past the hole, missed her putt coming 
back and lost the hole and match as the erstwhile partaker of her 
hospitality blithely holed out. 

Usually there is a tortured, taut grimace accompanying the 
hand-shake given the victor by the loser even under such circum- 
stances because women are natural actors but this time the loser 
walked off the green without formalities. 

That was the end of that beautiful friendship and it also was 
the end of tournament attendance in luxury for the young woman 
who had jabbed in the needle. 

I thought it was a perfect instance of instinctive malice in 
competition, because both women were veterans and knew the acci- 
dental stroke counted. 

There also are plenty of cases, too, of instinctive kindness in 
women's tournaments ; some of them that don't turn out so well for 
the considerate soul. I recollect one occasion when a very good 
woman player was matched against another woman, not so good. 
The inferior player was one of the slowest players I ever watched. 
Her tender-hearted opponent waited behind until the extremely 
deliberate player had made each shot and then walked up to her 
own shot, pretty well upset by the long wait. The delay between 
the shots threw the better player off her game and down she went 
in defeat. 

In the next day's match the slow player met a wiser head. This 
opponent would walk ahead to her own shot right after she had 

20 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

played, sit down and very calmly smoke a cigarette while the other 
girl was fidgeting around and studying. After a few holes of this 
the slower girl had her heart shot out in midair simply by seeing 
the opponent always ahead and always serene. * 

Professional golfers seldom talk or write about women's com- 
petitive golf because no pro wants to imitate Clyde Beatty, the cir- 
cus man, who walks into cages in which there are queen tigers and 
empress lions. I remember in a story about Beatty something about 
his act being dangerous because he took a chance with females. 
Things are tough enough for pros without taking any chances. 

While I am trying to keep myself out of the rough of debate 
on women's golf I will make a stab at a statement I think is air 
tight as far as the women are concerned : Shot for shot the better 
women players have everything needed to win any championship. 
The lack of power in women's shots isn't the reason for their failure 
to trim the men. I have seen any number of fairly good women 
golfers who were uniformly straight off the tee and averaged more 
than 200 yards in length. Many of the championship calibre of 
women golfers will slam the ball out around the 225 yard marker. 
When Johnny Goodman won the National Open at North Shore 
in 1933 some accurate driving length figures were kept by one of 
the statistically minded observers and his records showed 220 yards 
was a long drive for Johnny. 

After watching many of the ranking women players make 
thousands of brassie shots I will say that the leading ten women 
players are superior to the average of the first 50 professionals on 
these wood shots from fairway lies. 

Now here comes the part I can't understand, and when a fellow 
comes to something he can't understand he blames it on the fem- 
inine temperament, which always is a Class A alibi. The short 
game of the women, where delicacy of touch is all-important, is the 
fatal weakness of their golf. 

This mystery whips me because I can't thread a needle. That is 
something requiring delicate touch that almost every woman does 
instinctively. Why this nicety of touch isn't shown by women on 
the putting green baffles me. 

I have followed Joyce Wethered, the English girl who was 
easily the foremost of women golfers during her competitive career. 
She certainly was on her game when I saw her and as I watched 

Fairway Queens and Rough Cats 21 

her I thought there wasn't a male golfing star in the world who 
wouldn't envy the strong, firm type of stroke she played. 

She had a graceful, compact swing that swept the clubhead 
through the ball. She hit her shots crisply like a man expert, but 
without having any mannish mannerisms to detract from her charm 
as a quiet and gracious young sportswoman. 

Comparing Wethered with some other star women players whom 
I will not mention by name because life is very sweet to me, it seems 
that the strength of her game was in its strictly feminine charac- 
teristics. She had grace and timing and touch. 

Others of the girls with aspirations toward the queenly posi- 
tion that Wethered surrendered, fall short, in my opinion, because 
they tried to graft too many masculine features onto the women's 
game. Never the twain shall meet in making a woman golfer of the 
first magnitude. 

The two leading women golfers of our own country, Glenna 
Collett Vare and Virginia Van Wie, are entirely feminine. They 
have lovely characters and although I have seen them grow up from 
little girl golfers in the teen age to champions, I never have seen, 
heard or read of them being, in the slightest way, even tomboyish. 

There have been a lot of stories told about how Gene Sarazen 
and I used to try to get each other's goat in match play champion- 
ships. I can tell you that these tales were very interesting fiction 
because Gene and I play only our own games and both of us realize 
we are temperamentally immune to any irritation or distraction 
that the other might try, if so disposed. But I know that were 
either one of us susceptible to needling, some women I have seen 
play in championships would have us calling it a day before we 
had played with them much farther than the out nine. 

Since 1914 I have played in at least 70 championship events in 
the United States, England, Scotland, Canada and France and I 
don't know how many important money tournaments, but in all 
of these events combined I haven't seen the demonstrations of genius 
in making the opponent uneasy that I saw in one women's cham- 
pionship a few years ago. 

Some women apparently have an instinctive urge for that sort 
of thing and since I'm sticking my neck out by writing anything 
on women's golf, I might as well stick it clear out from the collar- 
bone to the chin and say that this impulse to make the opponent 
feel uncomfortable is a major flaw in the games of some otherwise 

22 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

strong contenders for championship honors. It becomes a habit 
that causes them to think too much about the enemy rather than 
concentrating on their own game. 

I have begun to believe, lately, that this sort of felinity is 
vanishing among women golfers, but it may be that I am entirely 
wrong and the work of the tabbies is getting so perfect it gets past 
my eye. I can't follow the victor and the vanquished into the 
women's locker-rooms and see whether they tangle their dainty 
hands angrily in each other's hair after company's gone. 

Being chivalrously inclined and with a high regard for women's 
ability to figure out things quickly I hope I guess right when I 
suspect that the example of Miss Wethered, Mrs. Vare and Miss 
Van Wie has begun to influence others. These three, as I have ob- 
served them, seemed to have removed themselves so far above the 
reach of any insidious stings harpooned at their poise by op- 
ponents, anyone who might calculate battle tactics of this nature 
against them would waste the effort. 

One of the greatest competitive temperaments I ever saw in 
women's golf was that of Mary K. Browne. She, as you will re- 
member, was a great tennis player. 

In golf her shot-making ability never was up to her confident 
attitude, but the combination gave the rest of the girls some com- 
petition that didn't mean a restful afternoon. 

Mary had that air about her at a golf tournament of: "Say, 
darlings, this is soft compared to a tennis tournament. Who is 
the sister I'm going to dust off next?" At the first women's na- 
tional championship in which she qualified (that of 1924) she beat 
Glenna Collet one up in 19 holes in the semi-finals and lost out for 
the championship by 7 and 6 to Mrs. Dorothy Campbell Hurd, the 
only woman to win the United States, British and Canadian 
women's championships. 

Miss Browne that year had barely qualified with a 96. The 
top qualifying score was 97. The top qualifying score at the 1933 
women's national championship was 87, so you get an idea of how 
the pace is getting hotter. 

That year of Mary's debut in the championship brackets her 
first match play victory was over Mrs. H. Arnold Jackson who had 
beaten the Browne qualifying score by five strokes; the second 
match-play triumph was over Miss Louise Fordyce who had been 
15 strokes better than Miss Browne the qualifying round; the 

Fairway Queens and Rough Cats 23 

third match-play round win was over Miss Bernice Wall who had 
beaten Mary's score in the qualifying round by six strokes, and in 
the semi-finals Mary beat Glenna whose qualifying round as 
medalist was 79, 17 strokes better than the qualifying round shot 
by Miss Browne! 

Now I say a record like that shows fighting spirit and tactical 
warfare of a superior sort. But don't jump at the idea that I infer 
Mary catted herself to conquest. She's a real sportswoman. If you 
do draw such an inference some woman is liable to point out that 
George Dunlap barely got into last year's national amateur tourna- 
ment matchplay rounds after a play-off in the qualifying round, 
nine strokes behind the medalist, Johnny Fisher. However, only in 
one case did George play a match against a fellow who had quali- 
fied more than one stroke ahead of him. 

The second time Miss Browne played in the women's national 
the match play rounds went about according to form as shown in 
the qualifying round and she was put out in the semi-finals by 
Mrs. W. G. Fraser by a 3 and 2 margin. Mrs. Fraser had qualified 
with a 77 as against a qualifying figure of 82 by Miss Browne. 

The moral, if any, is that women golfers the first time they meet 
may have matches decided by competitive tactics but the second 
time the issue is decided by cold-blooded golf. 

Men are the other way. One fellow who is several shots poorer 
may have the Osage sign in match play over some superior medal 
play performer and defeat the better player nine times out of ten. 
Why there should be this difference between men's and women's 
golf, I don't know. 

There is that old gag about women and elephants never for- 
getting and I am disposed to think that it applies to women's com- 
petitive golf. The women seem to remember just what it was that 
got them upset before and they subconsciously build up a defense. 
Sometimes this defense is a lofty detachment from personalities in 
the play and other times the fair ones apparently apply the policy 
that a strong offense is the best defense, but in either case it makes 
women's golf exceedingly interesting to watch. 

I am of the opinion that the great improvement in the standard 
of women's golf during the last decade will be excelled in the next 
ten years if there are more medal play events for women players. 
In match play the players play each other and in medal play, they 
play golf first, last and all the time. After twenty-five years of 

24i Esquire's First Sports Reader 

watching women golfers as a professional and spectator I have 
come to the conclusion that women golfers are defeated more by 
women than they are by golf. The women do better when they 
remember what they are playing instead of remembering whom 
they are playing. That's the secret accounting for the success of 
our outstanding women stars. 

I Couldn't Take It 


February^ 19^3 

A fter my second fight with Joe Louis, I was a better draw- 
Z\ ing card than ever, they said; such a crowd-puller, be- 
**- *^ cause of my size, evil appearance and ability to "take it," 
that I would get 10,000 dollars for fighting Harry Bobo in Pitts- 
burgh, 15,000 dollars for a battle with Lou Nova in Washington 
(Lee Savold took the match and won), and 5,000 dollars apiece 
for a couple of fights with local favorites in California. 

The bait totaled 35,000 dollars, was entirely net and all for me. 
Radio, movie shorts and vaudeville would have sent the figure to* 
about 50,000 dollars, just for slinging leather a few months longer. 

But I couldn't take it, because the picture of Willie Jackson 
remained in my memory. That picture had been bobbing in and 
out of my mind, on and off, for fourteen years. I'm not afraid to 
admit that it frightened me, nor that it influenced my decision to 
quit the ring. I'd much rather be known as Honest Abe than Sim- 
ple Simon. 

Have you ever seen Willie Jackson? He's the only fighter who 
could knock out Johnny Dundee and produce one of the biggest 
upsets in ring history. Dundee's career ended with a kayo by Al 
Foreman, but that was after twenty years of fighting. The Jack- 
son affair came early and was the sensation of 1917, they say, but 
I didn't know Willie when he entered the shop where I worked as 
a fourteen-year-old after graduating from grammar school. He 
walked with a shuffle peculiar to half-paralyzed people. His curly, 
black-haired head would shake in nervous spasms. Talking thickly 
and slowly, he had a hard time making himself understood. 

"Who is that?" I asked a fellow workman. 

"Him? Willie Jackson," he replied, "the guy that kayoed 
Johnny Dundee. He was a great fighter." 


26 EsauiRE's First Sports Reader 

"What's the matter with him?" 

The fellow workman punched his own jaw lightly. "Took too 
many punches," he confided. "He was a great fighter, though, the 
only guy who could kayo Johnny Dundee." 

"What's he doing here?" 

"Sellin' string." 

You can imagine me fourteen years later with that memory of 
the shuffling string salesman as stubborn as the pain in my head; 
neither would leave. I wasn't wealthy. I'd only hit the big money 
in the first fight with Louis for which I was paid 4,000 dollars. 
Prior to that the money had come in hundreds and not too often. 
Most of my savings had been spent on a home for my parents and 
one for my bride. I had a small cushion of cash, and the fifty thou- 
sand would have saved me from a career of "selling string." It was 
a tough decision to make. 

Prize fighters will rarely admit the subtle warnings which 
nature is considerate enough to flash from time to time. Only one, 
to my knowledge, Gene Tunney, ever said he was quitting in 
order to save what senses he had. In my case, nature's warning 
was a regiment of red lights with a loud siren added, but in the 
form of a constant pain that extended from the top of my head, 
down behind my left ear and deep into my neck. 

In addition, there was a sharper pain behind my left eye, but 
that wasn't constant like the other. Yet, both increased when I 
trained and they lingered after the fights. The pain behind the 
eye would diminish and disappear when I rested up, but not the 
ache in the back of my head. That lessened a bit, but remained 
as a constant reminder of possible tragedy. It was with me for three 
years and disappeared only recently when I gave up serious train- 
ing and quit the ring. 

Contrary to prevailing and professional opinion, often ex- 
pressed in the newspapers, my continuing as a fighter was not a 
question of heart "failure," lack of courage or the so-called in- 
ability to "take it," and here's why : 

My peculiar physical and glandular structure is such that I 
have never felt any pain from punches while in the ring. With all 
honesty, I can say that no fighter ever hurt me, and that includes 
both fights with Joe Louis. Throughout my life I have never felt 
a finger-sprain or bruised body until two or three days after an 
accident. I don't ever remember saying "Ouch" when I bumped 

I Couldn't Take It 27 

my head or stubbed a toe. The pain, if any, always came two or 
three days later when the injured area began to heal. 

Of course, I did feel Louis' punches, but not as pain. His hooks 
,to the body left a numb spot that extended deep. Then the spot 
would begin to tingle like a foot "asleep." The punches to the jaw 
and head were felt, but again not as pain. They would leave a 
dulled feeling, not of the consciousness, but of the area. The force 
of the blows would upset my balance, possibly by affecting the bal- 
ancing mechanism within my head, but I felt no actual pain from 
the punches. 

At the end of the second Louis fight, I was taking advantage 
of a nine-count, and jumped up at nine. I was entirely conscious 
when the referee told me I'd been counted out. 

"You're crazy!" I protested. "I came up at nine." 

"The knockdown counter reached ten," he said, and started to 
shove me toward my corner. 

I pulled away and turned to the knockdown counter and said : 
"Is that right?" 

"No, Abe," he shouted above the din, "I was just hitting nine." 

But it was like protesting the final strike of a ball game. The 
fight was over, and I was protecting my rights when I should have 
spent more time protecting my jaw from Louis' punches. The 
referee was following the orders of the New York State Athletic 
Commission, which seeks to prevent tragedies in the prize ring. 
Most damage to fighters comes after they've been stunned, and 
stand as easy targets to a hard puncher. 

In this respect, Joe Louis enjoys special dispensation in New 
York through the insistence of his wise managers. He is not a 
puncher of the Jack Dempsey type, but rather cuts his man down 
with a bruising, knife-like jab. The right hook, while a heavy, 
sleep-producing wallop, is used only when the victim shows signs 
of weakening. Hence, when Louis begins knocking a fighter down, 
it's a sure sign that he has hurt him plenty from the first. 

A numbed fighter is hard to kayo, because his reflexes are 
dulled. Were Louis permitted the distasteful job of rendering his 
opponents unconscious, half of them would never recover, and so 
Louis' managers insist that Joe's record be kept free of tragedy 
by having the fights stopped when and as an opponent becomes 
hopelessly outclassed. That explains why the champion's fights 
usually end in "technical knockouts," instead of abrupt finishes. 

28 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

That insistence also explains the presence of Arthur Donovan 
as referee of so many Louis fights. Donovan knows when a fighter 
has taken enough of those damaging Louis punches. Managers 
have screamed that Donovan was favoring Louis, when actually 
he was protecting the manager through his meal ticket. 

It's my belief that the referee was protecting me in the second 
Louis fight, and I'm not sorry it was stopped, because Joe Louis 
gets a fighter eventually. I make the point only to indicate that I 
was unhurt and in possession of my faculties. I said as much an 
instant later into the radio microphone. 

And so, I didn't feel any pain, but I can't say that Louis in- 
flicted no damage. There's a whale of a difference between pain and 

For the bruises from punches are like icebergs ; you see only a 
small part of the damage on the surface. The bruise goes deep and 
so does the pain when healing starts. Winner or loser, a fighter's 
thoughts after a tough fight plague his peace of mind. Whenever 
I inspected the damage before a mirror after a fight, I always saw 
two images : Abe Simon and little Willie Jackson. 

When I first saw Willie in the shop that day I had no thought 
of fighting. My mind was filled with delight over the fact that I 
didn't have to return to school. I was an average kid in that respect 
with a low regard for education and a high estimate of the few 
dollars a week that gave me "independence." I was an average 
kid in other respects, being only Rye feet six inches tall and weigh- 
ing about 130 pounds. And then it happened; I began to grow like 
asparagus, full-sized overnight. 

Within two years I leaped from five-six to six-feet-four, and 
from 130 pounds to 240. I was something of a local celebrity in the 
Richmond Hill section of New York City. 

They talked me into attending high school, and I went to John 
Adams, where I was completely lacking any inferiority complex. 
Size and maturity does that to a kid. 

Bad marks made me ineligible for athletics in my freshman 
year, but I changed all that and made the football team as de- 
fensive tackle, offensive guard and a backfield plunger when we 
needed yardage. As I grew like a weed, the school and neighbor- 
hood developed a growing interest in my growing muscles. They 
decided that I should be a fighter. 

They didn't realize that I belonged to a fortunate, or unfor- 

I Couldn't Take It 29 

tunate, group of humans known as glandular freaks, due to over- 
activity on the part of a tiny, dime-sized gland that lies under the 
brain. It's called the pituitary, and when the three-celled front 
half, called the anterior, gives off too many hormones into the 
bloodstream, you become an Abe Simon, or a Primo Camera, 
whether you have a punch or not. 

Your jaw becomes heavy, your hands and feet full and large. 
Your body-frame grows in all directions and your legs seem to 
stretch under you while you're sitting. When it goes full blast, you 
get even bigger and spend your life in the circus. When that little 
pituitary gland shirks the job of pouring hormones into the blood- 
stream, you also get a circus job, but this time as a midget. 

For a long time we have discussed the discoveries in glandular 
treatment, the miraculous pituitary operations of the late Dr. 
James Harvey Cushing, and things like myxoedema and acro- 

So, there I was, working happily as a non-combatant in the 
Rubel Ice Company, Brooklyn, where it is very cool in summer, 
and receiving 35 dollars a week for my labors, which consisted 
chiefly of nudging 300-pound blocks of ice from here to there. I 
might have been there yet, earning a bigger salary for shifting big- 
ger blocks of ice, except that my muscles attracted the fight man- 

The inevitable proposition. came from Tommy Shortell, of the 
Racquet and Tennis Club, who knew my high school gymnasium 
teacher. Shortell asked me how I'd like to become a fighter. I said 
that I couldn't give up a good job to learn and train, because the 
dough I earned was needed at home. He replied with an offer to 
fix it so I could train for nothing at the exclusive Racquet and Ten- 
nis Club. With nothing to lose, I accepted. 

After a few weeks of boxing and gym work, Shortell began again 
on the subject of boxing as a business, but I refused to desert that 
job in the ice company with its 35 dollars a week. Next he asked 
me if I'd like to have "Jock" Whitney as a sponsor, and I said that 
I could stand it, if Whitney could, and the panic was on. Shortell 
confessed that, being a boxing judge licensed in New York State, 
he couldn't be so indiscreet as to manage a fighter. 

With that I met Mr. Whitney and Gene Tunney, technical ad- 
viser, who promptly declared that I was to stop fighting with my 
right hand extended, southpaw style, and to turn around as an 

30 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

orthodox boxer with my left hand out. I had a very fast left, 
Tunney said, and the turn-around would give me a fast and heavy 
left jab. The change made me feel and look awkward, but I didn't 
complain, because the new deal paid me 35 dollars a week as a re- 
ward for giving up the ice company job devoting all my waking 
hours to boxing. 

I was then turned over to Jimmy Bronson, who, I learned, was 
acting for his old friend Tunney. Actually the former heavyweight 
champion was my sponsor, because the 35 dollars a week, every 
penny of it, was refunded to him as soon as I started earning money 
in the ring. 

Needless to say, the path to the first fight is a tedious one, paved 
with countless "don'ts" and repetitious maneuvers, calculated to 
make you a "natural" fighter. A heavy poke on the whiskers and 
most of the do's and don'ts trickle from your mind in a hurry. But 
I was always conscious of getting 35 dollars a week and worked as 
hard as I had for the ice company, only it wasn't half so cool. I 
worked all winter at the job of preparing myself, and the fights 
seemed secondary when they finally arrived. I kayoed a couple of 
beginners, like myself, in two rounds each, and on the Louis- 
Carnera program in June of 1935, I stopped a fellow named Chris 
Karchi in a round. 

Frankly, I didn't do so bad and my only complaint was that 
Bronson didn't get me enough work. For instance, in 1937 I had 
only four fights that totaled seven rounds, the last of which went 
three when Buddy Baer handed me my first knockout and second 
defeat. I got 35 dollars a week all year, and my purses went into 
the pot from which Tunney balanced off his weekly advance. 

One thing I can say is that there were no so-called "tank jobs" 
on the list, either under Bronson or my second and more active 
manager, Jimmy Johnston. All told I fought about fifty heavy- 
weights. I kayoed half of them, and got kayoed four times, twice 
by Joe Louis, once by Buddy Baer and once by Lem Franklin. 
When my opponents went down, it was because they couldn't stand 
the force of my 259 pounds. When they failed to go down, it was 
because I wasn't good enough. 

Whether fights were few or many, I had to train regularly, 
for I never knew when the next contract would be signed. And let 
me say here, probably for the first time, that a fighter suffers just 
as much from punches during training as he does from wallops 

I Couldn't Take It 31 

taken in actual combat. He wears a head-guard, yes, and the 
training gloves are pillow-like in structure, but that protection 
cannot forestall jarring of the brain. 

That's what causes the trouble — my headaches and those of 
every fighter who has taken punishment. It's not a single punch; 
it's the constant jarring. Ernie Schaaf died immediately after 
collapsing in the ring during the fight with Primo Camera, but it 
wasn't from Camera's punches. They traced the damage to a 
brain-hemorrhage suffered late in a hard, losing fight with Max 
Baer almost six months before. 

The brain, as you know, or should, if you don't, fits into a 
bony crevice, heavily protected from light blows, from heat and 
cold. But it wasn't made to withstand long the jarring and shak- 
ing that comes from hard punches. It weighs three pounds and may 
be compared to a dish of gelatin, for it is far from solid, like a 
bone. Take a three-pound dish of gelatin and slap it with your 
hand and it will sway from side to side. That swaying exerts a 
stretching force on one side and a compressing force on the other. 

Either stretching or pressure strains the countless, tiny blood 
vessels that cover the surface of the brain in a red network and 
the many more that extend from the surface inward toward the 
center. Repeated strain or shock can and will rupture one, two or 
more and the result can produce one of several effects. It can 
produce a surface clot, small and bothersome, as in the case of any 
slight concussion, or it can produce one big and fatal, as it was 
in the case of Ernie Schaaf. 

Rupture of these tiny arteries within the brain, however, are 
the tricky and subtle ones. Each artery is cushioned within a 
liquid-filled tube called the perivascular space. When the rupture 
occurs, the escaping blood forms a ring around the artery and 
hardens, but pushes the perivascular tube outward. This outward 
extension exerts a lateral pressure that can affect any one or more 
of the five senses. 

These changes are so slow and subtle that a fighter doesn't 
notice what is happening. One day he will realize that he can't step 
down from a curb with a spring, but he won't tell his manager. He 
won't tell a Boxing Commissioner or the examining physician. He 
thinks it'll go away. It never does. Instead, something else de- 
velops to plague him. Perhaps it will be his hearing. He never 
associates hearing with his brain, but a couple of those ruptures are 

32 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

pressing against the cellular structure that contains nerves to the 
sensory organs of hearing. He hasn't even a cauliflower ear, and 
can't remember getting slugged in the ear, so how can the faulty 
hearing be due to punches? 

Each subtle affliction is defended as it turns up and the fighter 
continues to give it and take it. If there should be a headpain, 
such as I developed, he will take aspirin and charge the pain to 
a particular punch, never thinking that it might be, and probably 
is, a tiny blood-clot trying to work its way into the bloodstream 
to be dissolved. Pretty soon his walking is affected, for he has 
trouble maintaining balance unless he spreads his legs and shifts 
the weight of his body from side to side as he walks. He is now "on 
his heels" as we say in boxing. The spring has gone from his step. 

The fighter, believe me, knows that something is wrong. He 
won't complain, because someone might call him yellow, and he 
trails the will-o'-the-wisp "it'll go away," until he gets disgusted 
and tries to fight his way back to health. To cover up his secret 
fear, his horror and self-consciousness at feeling deficient among 
others, he forms the habit of laughing continually, throwing words 
and comment around until finally he hears: 

"Shut up ! You're punchy !" 

How do I know all this? Well, I've seen it in fight clubs, train- 
ing camps, promoters' offices and anywhere that fighters gather. 
But, more important, the nurse who is now my wife served in a 
Queens County hospital. There she met and observed a very un- 
usual physician, Dr. Harrison S. Martland, of Newark, New Jer- 
sey, who was among the first to investigate the effect of punches 
on a fighter's brain, and was the first to dignify the term "punch 
drunk" with a medical reason for the words. Before Dr. Martland 
completed and announced his investigation of a string of well- 
known and helpless ex-fighters, "punch drunk" was a slang term, 
tossed around the sports pages. 

Dr. Martland learned why fighters like Willie Jackson, Joe 
Grim, Jack Dillon, Johnny Tillman, Floyd Johnson, Freddie 
Jacks, and many others, walk with the tell-tale shuffle, suffer what 
he calls a Parkinsonian syndrome or twitching of the face, lose their 
sense of hearing, feeling, speech and even sight. It was from rup- 
tured blood vessels exerting a pressure against nerve centers within 
the brain. 

All this I knew during the past two or three years when my 

I Couldn't Take It 33 

new manager, Jimmy Johnston, began to get me more and harder 
fights. I knew that he was pointing me toward a fight with Joe 
Louis for the championship, and that I'd have to take punishment 
even though I couldn't feel it. 

But every prize fighter is a gambler, pitting his good health 
and brain against the rigors of ring punishment. I had an added 
burden — a sacroiliac torture, but that wasn't from the ring. With 
a possible head injury and perhaps tragic results — for I am big 
and was an easy target for the fast boxers — staring me in the face, 
I went on, but the lure was money, as it is to all fighters. 

The big money of a championship fight is an oasis. Winning 
the title itself is a constant mirage that blinds a fighter to all dan- 
ger, and lulls his judgment like a drug. The knowledge that he 
must take certain punishment is secondary, for he is always soothed 
by the falsehood that he will be "just as good as ever" after a 
short rest. He never is, and no fighter living today who has had 
fifty or more reasonably hard fights can honestly make the claim. 

The mirage, of course, is the 1000-to-l chance that he will win 
the title in his class. The odds are less among the smaller fighters. 
To the heavyweight, it is a fortune and future so big that he can 
well afford to put it far above his physical welfare. 

But I couldn't take it — neither the punishment to my body and 
brain, nor the fortune to be paid for almost certain destruction. 
Several things entered into the decision. First, of course, was my 
wife, who had taken me for better or worse, but, like all brides, 
hoped it would be for better. 

Another complication was the over-active pituitary gland. That 
dime-sized trouble-maker was on the rampage and refused to quiet 
down. This was not entirely a surprise, because several years 
ago a brilliant young doctor said: 

"Abe, you're going to grow bigger and bigger if that thing 
doesn't quiet down. Let's give a look." 

He X-rayed my head and the pituitary gland was twice normal 
size, and running like a pick-pocket. 

"Your feet and hands will grow larger," he told me, "as 
acromegaly sets in. Your jaw will grow massive. You'll never have 
a broken bone or a cracked tooth, but that pituitary is growing 
and there's no room for it to grow. You'd better do something." 

Well, I thought exercise and boxing might keep it under con- 
trol and went on with my fighting. 

34 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

After the second fight with Joe Louis, I decided to have another 
check-up on the gland situation, and I'll be darned if the devil 
wasn't five times normal size ! Since the pituitary gland rests in its 
own declivity within the bony skull, it could grow in only one 
direction — upward. So, it would have to grow into the brain. 

And so I broke the news and here I am, with no fifty grand, 
but with enough wits to count what I have, thanks to the best of 
doctors and the best of patient, understanding wives. 

And everything is under control, especially the pituitary gland, 
which has succumbed to X-ray treatments. The last examination 
showed that it hadn't grown any more, and neither had I. I sug- 
gested to the doctor that if I stopped thinking, my brain might 
shrink and make room for the enlarged pituitary, but he said that 
as long as the thing had stopped growing, my future looked rosy. 

Most important to me is that I have a future, a consolation 
worth far more than 50,000 dollars. 

Baseballs Thirteen Best Batters 


June, 191$ 

I shall never forget the day that I heard Wee Willie Keeler 
expound his now-famous batting theory: "Hit 'em where they 
ain't!" That was in 1906. We were sitting on the bench of 
the New York Highlanders, now better known as the Yankees. 
Mark Roth, then a baseball writer on the New York Globe and now 
traveling secretary of the Yankees, had come down to the bench 
to interview Keeler on the art of hitting. 

The day before, Keeler had made five hits in a row. Two of 
them were bunts; another was a drag bunt that the pitcher, first 
baseman and second baseman chased, with the latter finally reach- 
ing the ball but finding no one covering first. The other two hits 
were fly balls that dropped between the shortstop and left fielder. 

"What have you to say to the kids of America on how to be- 
come a great hitter?" asked Roth. 

"Hit 'em where they aint," replied Keeler. 

"I understand," said Roth, "but you must explain how to 
'hit 'em where they ain't'." 

"Just do it," was Keeler's answer. 

It is questionable if the game ever produced a hitter just like 
Keeler. He had no power. The outfielders knew it and played in 
close. Yet he always batted better than .800. 

Whenever he stepped to the plate, it was even money that he 
would bunt. The third baseman played almost under his bat and 
the first baseman dashed in close on every pitch. The pitcher was 
always set to move to his right or left. 

Despite all the defenses, Keeler, with his uncanny ability to 
place the ball out of reach of the opposition baffled all attempts 
to stop him. Keeler was one of the originators of so-called "place 
hitting," so gauging his batting stroke that the ball, would fall 
where no one was playing. 


36 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

It is my conviction that all the great hitters are born not 
made. Over nearly forty years in baseball, twenty-two in the role 
of big league umpire in which I have called balls and strikes on 
these great hitters, I have reached the decision that hitting is a 
gift. You either have it or you don't. It is seldom, if ever, acquired. 
I have asked many of the great hitters to explain just how they 
did it, but invariably their answers were just as illuminating as the 
favored reply of Wee Willie Keeler to all such questions: "Hit 
'em where they ain't." 

Unquestionably, timing is the greatest asset of all the outstand- 
ing batsmen. Better than the average physique is quite important 
in the production of power at the plate. Yet there have been some 
truly great hitters besides 145-pound Willie Keeler who were just 
average size. 

Timing at the bat is a combination of a number of things. 
There must be perfect rhythm between the stride and the swing. 
If either is a trifle late, the co-ordination is lacking. Over a six- 
months season, for various reasons, batters often fall into a 
"slump." Usually a slump is brought about by lack of proper tim- 

If there ever was a greater all-around baseball player than Ty 
Cobb, I have yet to see him. Babe Ruth had more power. Tris 
Speaker was a greater fielder, Joe DiMaggio has a better arm, but 
none possessed the all-around finesse of the Georgia Peach. Cobb 
did everything well. He had great speed which he used to marvelous 
advantage in the field and on the bases. He had the keenest sort 
of a mind and always sought to take advantage of any slip on the 
part of the opposition, whether he was at the bat or on the bases. 
He could bunt, he could drag the ball, he could place-hit; when 
he wanted, he could go for distance and get it. He hit at few bad 
balls and walked often. His great speed caused the opposition 
to hurry the play on all balls hit to the infield and he often profited 
by some slip. On the bases he was a constant threat. He developed 
the "fall away" or "fadeaway" slide that gave the fielder handling 
the ball little more than the spikes to touch as he slid into a base. 

Well do I recall a reply that Cobb made to me years ago when 
sitting on the bench with him. I asked how he analyzed batting 
slumps, which every now and then overtook even him. 

"It's hard to explain why they happen," Ty replied. "It's even 
more difficult to offer a solution as to how to come out of a batting 

Baseball's Thirteen Best Batters 37 

slump. Illness and injuries often cause a batter to fall into a slump. 
Illness destroys some of his physical resistance, causing him to 
press in an effort to make up for the lack of that little extra zip 
in his swing. Injuries to either arms or legs often cause a player 
to lose his timing, simply because in favoring the injury, he un- 
consciously throws himself off stride. When a slump is directly 
attributable to temporary physical defects, a return to normal 
invariably gets the batter back in stride. In a great many cases, 
however, worry is the start of a slump. For three or four days, a 
batter is hitting the ball right on the nose but directly at some 
fielder. He just can't get the ball safe. 'Couldn't buy a base hit,' 
as we say in baseball. Since the batter is hitting the ball good, 
but with no luck, he shouldn't give the matter serious thought. 
However, as he sees the batting average slumping a few points 
with every day's failure to get base hits, he starts thinking about 
the matter. That is error number one. Having started to think 
about his slump, he also starts to think about how to overcome it. 
That is when and where the trouble usually starts. In his effort to 
overcome the base hit famine, he changes stance, swing or stride, 
and more often than not, further handicaps his timing. 

"When I went into a slump, I tried my best to keep from worry- 
ing. I killed off, to a certain extent, the desire to press by taking 
a spread grip which enabled me to better control the bat, thereby 
enabling me to keep from going after bad balls, which always hap- 
pens when you are pressing. The best antidote for any batting 
slump is not to worry and continue your regular style at the plate." 

Cobb had fewer batting slumps than most of them. And I have 
always felt the reason was that Cobb had great confidence in his 
ability, knew that batting slumps were merely temporary and that 
if he continued in the routine way he would emerge without any 
great handicap. 

In any discussion of the great hitters of the game, you have to 
come quickly to Babe Ruth, the greatest distance hitter of them all. 

Ruth was a do-or-don't batter — always shooting the works. He 
called on no tricks to get his base hits. They were manufactured 
through the medium of sheer power. Every now and then, more 
for the humor of the situation, he would lay down a bunt and beat 
it out, to his great satisfaction. Reaching first base he would shake 
with laughter. 

Ruth, greatest slugger of all time, could be pitched to but 

38 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

there had better be no slip in the procedure. AH sluggers, who 
swing for distance, invariably use a heavy bat in their act; conse- 
quently they do not like the change of pace or the half speed curve 
kept low. Ruth took a position well in the rear of the box, with 
feet close together. When he started his swing, he would take a 
quick long stride forward as the ball neared the plate. The arc 

















Willie Keeler.. . 











TyCobb . 

















Babe Ruth 

































Eddie Collins . . 

















Hans Wagner. . 








r 648 






Rogers Hornsby 

















Tris Speaker. . . 

















George Sisler.. . 









































Joe DiMaggio.. 

. 6, 
















Ted Williams . . 

. 3, 
















described by the bat would be in keeping with the stride. If the 
pitch was a fast ball and Babe's timing was accurate, the ball was 
in for a terrific ride. On the other hand, if the pitcher crossed the 
Babe up with a change of pace or slow curve, his timing for such 
a pitch might be thrown off. 

The smart pitchers — those with a limited amount of natural 
stuff — caused Ruth more trouble than pitchers who had plenty. 
Such type pitchers worked on Ruth, seldom gave him the ball he 
liked best to hit — the fast one — and kept trying to make him 
swing at the ball they wanted him to, rather than the one he liked 
to hit. As a result Babe often struck out ; on the other hand, pitch- 
ing smart to Ruth, meaning just missing the plate, caused him to 
get a lot of bases on balls, in addition to the many intentional 
passes he received. 

The late Lou Gehrig, who followed Ruth in the Yankee batting 
order for many years, was in some respects as great a bitter as 
Ruth. Gehrig was just the opposite of the Babe in every way. Ruth 
was the flamboyant, Gehrig the retiring individual. The Babe was 
talkative, Gehrig ever reticent. There was a swish to Ruth's swing 
that amazed you, even though he missed the pitch by a foot. There 
was a grace and rhythm to Gehrig's swing that made you feel 
there was no excuse for him not hitting every pitch. The start 
of the swing of these two great hitters was entirely different. Ruth 

Baseball's Thirteen Best Batters 39 

was fidgety. His bat would move back and forth on his shoulder. 
His feet were close together, ready for the lunge into the ball that 
meant the kill. Gehrig, on the other hand, used an open stance of 
perhaps a foot. His bat rested quietly on his shoulder as the pitcher 
prepared to deliver the ball. When the delivery was started, Gehrig 
slowly lifted the bat from his shoulder. When the pitch neared the 
plate he took a short step and a rhythmic swing that made for 
almost as great power as Ruth. 

Gehrig was much harder to pitch to than Ruth. He murdered 
the change of pace and slow curve that Ruth disliked. Ruth, be- 
cause of his lunge, was unable to control his bat as could Gehrig 
from his flat stance. Gehrig was never off balance and always able 
to adapt his swing and timing to the slow stuff as well as great 

The greatest difference between Ruth and Gehrig however, 
was not so much of a mechanical nature as it was in temperament. 
When Ruth hit a home run he let you know that he was just as 
delighted over the happening as his most loyal rooter. His every 
step as he circled the bases was wildly cheered. He would repeated- 
ly doff his cap to the crowd in a manner that increased the ap- 

I have seen Gehrig follow a home run by Ruth, with a circuit 
drive that traveled farther, yet the cheers in no way compared 
with the ovation tendered Ruth. Gehrig would round the bases as 
if anxious to get under cover. In reality there was not so much 
difference between the ability of Ruth and Gehrig to hit home 
runs. Color made Ruth's salary in his prime $80,000 a year, while 
I doubt if Gehrig ever received over $35,000. Ruth's color made 
the turnstiles click. 

The four batters we have already discussed — Cobb, Ruth, 
Gehrig and Keeler — were left-handers. So let's consider two of 
the greatest hitters ever produced by the National League — Hans 
Wagner and Rogers Hornsby, both right-handers. Wagner did all 
his hitting against the dead ball and before the abolition of trick 
deliveries. I believe if Wagner hit the lively ball, his average over 
21 years would have been closer to .350 than the .329 figure he 

Honus's style at the plate was rather grotesque because of his 
bow legs and long arms, but he had no weakness as far as I could 
judge and I never heard a pitcher argue that he had. He had a 

40 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

remarkable eye, seldom hit at bad balls and seemingly could easily 
and quickly change his stance and style to meet the requirements 
of the pitch. 

A great fielding shortshop — I doubt if Wagner ever had a peer 
in the field — Wagner had great speed for so big and gangling a per- 
son. He had the knack of breaking with the ball, so important to a 
shortshop, and somehow always seemed to be in front of it, making 
hard chances look easy. He had a fine arm and was a great base 
runner. Yet, in addition to his brilliance in the field, Wagner was 
one of the greatest hitters of all time. He was the most awkward 
"graceful" performer in all the history of the game. 

Rogers Hornsby, one of the greatest right-handed hitters of 
all time, was just the opposite of Wagner. I have told you that 
Wagner was awkwardly graceful. On the other hand, Hornsby at 
the plate, was the Adonis of the game. He had a perfect physique. 
His stride and swing were models of grace and precision. In some 
ways the style of Hornsby was as uncommon as that of Wagner. 
Certainly it was more unorthodox. 

Hornsby stood in the extreme rear of the batter's box — at 
least four feet from the home plate. It appeared that the smart 
pitcher could keep the ball low and on the outside and make a 
sucker of Hornsby. A lot of smart pitchers had such a notion 
during the early years of Hornsby's career. I once remarked to 
Hornsby that his style seemed definitely contrary to all mechanics 
of the game. He smiled and replied: 

"On the contrary, Billy, my style enables me to meet all the 
different pitches. The toughest pitch for any batter is the 'tight' 
pitch — high or low and inside. My position takes the dynamite out 
of the tight pitch. To hit the low pitch on the outside, curve or 
fast ball, you take a full stride in the direction of the plate as the 
pitch is started, which brings you pretty much on a line with the 
plate and enables you to either push the ball to right field or drive 
it for distance. I have always felt that my style at the plate immedi- 
ately created a hazard for the smart pitcher by practically elim- 
inating his having a chance to pitch to your stance and make you 
hit the ball that he wants you to hit." 

Tris Speaker, the last word in center fielding, was not far 
behind in his activities at the plate. Speaker was another of the 
rhythm hitters. His stance was just about the opposite of Hornsby. 
He used a spread stance lined up with the home plate, rather than 

Baseball's Thirteen Best Batters 41 

being three of four feet back of it like Hornsby. Speaker took no 
devastating swing but had a perfectly timed follow-through, like 
a golfer. His swing stressed timing and the follow-through. Ordi- 
narily he didn't go for distance but in the pinch, when an extra 
base hit was needed, Speaker could slip his grip to the bottom of 
the bat and swing from the ground. He liked to move out ahead of 
the plate on the curve and slow stuff and hit the ball before it 
started to break. 

The career of Eddie Collins covers twenty-five years as a big 
league star, more than any of the other great hitters of the game. 
Ty Cobb who played one year less than Eddie, ranks second. Collins 
was not a power hitter. He was in the same class as Keeler, and 
George Sisler, who might be termed the brain hitters of the game. 

Collins, unlike many of the other outstanding left-handed 
hitters, was not a pull hitter. A great majority of Collins' hits 
went to left field, line drives over the shortstop's head or sizzling 
grounders just between the third baseman and shortstop. 

Collins was a difficult man to strike out. He had a keen eye. He 
was a fine bunter, got away from the plate quickly and beat out 
many a bunt or dragged ball for a well-earned base hit. Next to 
Cobb, Collins was the best base-runner in the history of the Ameri- 
can League. When it came to laying down a perfect sacrifice with 
runners on, there was no one in the game who could compare with 

At the plate, Collins was a bundle of nerves on hinges. He was 
never still, constantly shifting his stance to what he believed was 
about to be pitched. Collins had no weakness at the plate and how 
he liked that outside pitch from waist to letter high. He could 
murder it to left field. 

Of all the modern hitters, George Sisler, who over a period of 
sixteen years in the majors, turned in a .34*0 batting average, bore 
the closest resemblance to Willie Keeler. Sisler, a left-handed hitter, 
was faster than Keeler and used his speed to better advantage than 
any of the other stars with the exception of Cobb. Sisler always 
had his eye on the play of the rival infield. If it was playing deep, 
he was quick to take advantage of the bunt and the drag to get 
base hits. He would poke bad pitches just over the infield, to the 
consternation of the opposition, the pitchers in particular. Sisler, 
small of stature compared to other great hitters — he didn't weigh 
over 165 — gave little thought to distance, but he took delight in 

42 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

surprising many an outfielder who insisted on playing him too 
close, by socking one over his head. 

Larry Lajoie, great right-handed hitter of the old school, was 
the good-to-look-at hitter. Larry was definitely a straightaway 
hitter whose chief thought was to get proper timing and thereby 
make correct contact. They say that the perfectly hit ball travels 
directly through the pitcher's box. It was surprising how many of 
Larry's base hits followed that course. He had a record for crip- 
pling pitchers with line drives. 

To my way of thinking, there was never a greater hitter than 
Joe Jackson. A left-handed hitter, Joe stood well back of the plate, 
keeping his feet fairly close together and, as the ball approached 
him, took a slow, even stride, and started the swing of the bat in 
unison with the stride. No hitter had more perfect co-ordination 
than Jackson. He could have hit fourth on my all-time team of 
great hitters of the game. 

That brings us to the two great hitters of modern times, Joe 
DiMaggio of the Yankees and Ted Williams of the Red Sox. The 
styles of these two batsmen are entirely different. Of all the great 
hitters, past and present, DiMaggio, the greatest present-day 
right-hander, uses the most open stance of all. He is the only 
power hitter who ever swung from a flat-footed position. At times, 
he lifts the left foot ever so slightly and then seems to dig in a 
little more with it as it touches the ground. Batters who hit from a 
flat stance are hard to fool, they are ready for any type of pitch. 
DiMaggio is nonchalant, seemingly indifferent, but he gets tre- 
mendous results. 

Ted Williams, in contrast to the phlegmatic DiMaggio, is a 
bundle of nerves. He seems to bubble over with enthusiasm from 
the time he leaves the bench until he reaches the batter's box. Get- 
ting into the box, he goes through a dozen acrobatic maneuvers. He 
pulls down his cap, hitches his trousers, digs in with his spikes, 
takes a practice swing not unlike a golfer, pats his hands in the 
dust to get a firmer grip of that bat, wiggles his hips, shakes his 
long bat as if it were a toothpick. It seems that he will never be 
ready for the pitch, but American League twirlers will testify to 
the contrary. He laughs at his own antics when he misses a healthy 
swing. He grins with satisfaction when he connects for the base hit. 
He is the big kid all over and, like Babe Ruth, wins his audience 
early. I have always felt that Williams, the greatest of today's 

Baseball's Thirteen Best Batters 43 

left-handed hitters, is the nearest approach in every way, that 
baseball has had to Ruth. 

There you have my thirteen best hitters. In rebuttal, what 
great batters would you name? In retrospect, I can think of a few; 
Jimmy Foxx, Harry Heilman, Joe Medwick, Paul Waner, Charley 
Gehringer and Heinie Manush. All great hitters, but we have to 
draw the line somewhere. 

Hockey Flashbacks 


March, 1935 

This is a hockey article, not a fight yarn — but it's a good op- 
portunity to register in print that Morenz is through with 
fighting on the ice. There's no percentage in it. Last year I 
started three fights — with Babe Siebert of Boston, Wentworth of the 
Montreal Maroons, and Filmore of the New York Americans — and 
lost all of them. After my third flooring I concluded I wasn't fast 
enough on the draw for modern hockey. Nowadays, the man who 
hits first, usually wins. Teammates, eyeing the penalty box, inter- 
vene before a second blow can be struck. 

Well do I remember older, happier days when impromptu 
fisticuffs reached more satisfying conclusions, one way or the other. 
Ho hum! Times change and civilization advances by leaps and 

Yes, from now on I'm a pacifist, a hold-backer. I'm going to 
stick with my conviction that nothing causes the opposition such 
intense pain as a simple little goal which, as you Americans phrase 
it, "breaks up the ball game." I'll hang on to that conviction until 
the next time a big defense man holds me just when I have a clean 
shot in front of the net — the big stiff ! 

I'll start talking about hockey any minute now — but this is a 
good place to nail the assertion of some skeptics that hockey fights 
are merely routined as part of the show, fancy embroidery for the 
main event. One moment, please. Look! 

The left wing is scorching the ice as he carts the puck goalward. 
A big, heavily armored defense man steps in with a vicious body 
check. His solid, unlovely hip smashes into the wing's stomach. 
The forward's breath leaves his body with a "woof," as he goes 
buckety-buck-buck and crashes into the boards. 

What is the wing's reaction — one of brotherly love, good will 


Hockey Flashbacks 45 

toward all men ? Is the right hook he aims at the chin of Mr. Defense 
delivered with an eye on the box office? 

One of the other illusions held by persons who have not been 
exposed to hockey for any great length of time is that the job of 
the goalie is comparatively simple, ideally suited to a man of seden- 
tary habits. 

Actually, goal tending calls for lightning coordination of eye, 
mind and body. The goalie who possessed that attribute in greatest 
measure was Chuck Gardiner, captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. 
The tragic death of this keen, happy, well-loved goalie cut short 
the most brilliant career in hockey history. 

My admiration for Chuck dates further back than last season, 
when his superb defensive play was the major factor in the march 
of the Blackhawks to the world's championship in hockey. 

It goes far back to the days when Major McLaughlin first 
organized the Blackhawks in Chicago. During those years, I was 
with Les Canadiens of Montreal. The Hawks were a loose, unsyn- 
chronized team then. Les Canadiens were a tight, well-oiled, high- 
scoring machine. Yet when we met the Hawks, we were lucky to 
win by 2 to 1, or 1 to scores. The reason was Gardiner. We con- 
sidered him 75% of the team. When I was able to get one single 
shot past Chuck in a game, I felt that I had had a big night. 

Goal tenders have been getting smarter each year. They remain 
at the net more and more, and that makes it tough for the offense. 
I have a genuine affection for opposing goalies who come out to 
meet the puck. They help my batting average. 

And yet, Gardiner came out from his cave more often than any 
other goalie. So precise was his timing, so shrewd his diagnosis of 
the impending shot that almost invariably he'd smother the puck, 
when the odds were high that a goal would be scored. 

Chabot, now goalie with our Chicago Blackhawks, comes nearest 
to approaching Gardiner's greatness. Not soon will I forget the 
night when Chabot, with four of his New York Ranger teammates 
off the ice on penalties, held our Canadiens scoreless. Two men 
against six, yet we could not get the puck past Chabot ! 

Hidden from the spectators are many of the tricks by which 
goalies thwart the offense. For example, many a goalie deliberately 
leaves an opening and, as you shoot for it, instantly blocks the hole. 
Not always do cagey forwards shoot for the opening, however. 
Anticipating the move, they shoot away from the open space. 

46 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

When a forward cracks the defense and bears down on the net, 
he resorts to skullduggery, seeking to feint the goalie out of 
position, then shooting for the opposite corner. 

One of the more difficult things to learn in hockey is not to 
shoot too soon when approaching the goal. As you speed forward 
you hear the rush of flying skates behind, or to the side of you, 
and you carry the mental hazard that the puck may be blocked, 
or hooked, if you hesitate too long to make your try. As a result, 
many young forwards shoot too soon, do not utilize their oppor- 
tunity to fake and feint the goalie out of position. The best recipe 
I've discovered to date is to withhold the shot until within eight to 
ten feet of the net, then shoot for a corner. 

A moment ago I spoke of my affection for goalies who come 
out to meet the offensive onslaught. Next in line in my genuine 
regard are defense men who back up as you bring the puck toward 
the goal. For retreating defense men give an opportunity to work 
scoring plays within the attacking zone. Such plays, which, in 
diagram form, are not unlike the drawings of your American foot- 
ball maneuvers, are carefully designed to draw defense men out of 
position and pave the way for a closeup shot. 

Defense men who come forward to meet you make life really 
tough for the center and wings. They throw you off your stride, 
cut down your speed and give the defensive forwards an oppor- 
tunity to overtake you from behind. 

The toughest defense men I've encountered are Eddie Shore of 
Boston and Ching Johnson of the New York Rangers. Both are 
husky and agile. Johnson probably weighs 220 pounds when out- 
fitted for the ice. 

And while I'm on the subject of outstanding men, I might 
mention that Harvey Jackson of Toronto is probably the best and 
fastest wing in the game. About the only way to stop Harvey is 
to close down the rink. Jimmy Ward of the Montreal Maroons 
is another wing who scorches the ice. The same is true of King 
Clancy of the Toronto Maple Leafs and young Mush March of 
our Chicago Blackhawks, who also owns blistering speed; the boy 
is a fine competitor, too. 

Another wing who has played great hockey down through the 
years is Aurel Joliat of Les Canadiens of Montreal. This is my 
twelfth year on major league ice and during eleven of those years 
I was teamed with Joliat in the line. During our tenure, we worked 

Hockey Flashbacks 47 

with three different right wings; Billy Boucher, Art Gagne and 
Johnny Gagnon. 

To Joliat must go much of the credit for the fact that I led 
the National Hockey League in scoring in J 927-28 and again in 

Joliat and I went through some great wars together. In the 
1929-30 play off with the New York Rangers, we were forced to 
play 68.52 minutes of overtime, to break the deadlock. That was 
the longest stretch I've ever done in a single game. When the break 
came and Lady Luck allotted the winning goal to us, I wasn't 
looking for cheers. I was on the hunt for a bed. 

The bed would have done me no good had we lost. For after we 
lose a tough game I cannot sleep. Long ago I discovered that the 
taking of a sheep census is no good. 

Yes, I take hockey seriously — but no more seriously than do 
the adherents of Les Canadiens in Montreal. 

Montreal, you know, has a population made up largely of 
French-Canadians, with the remainder mostly of English descent. 
The French support Les Canadiens, while the English back the 
Montreal Maroons. Games between these two teams split the city 
asunder and are played for keeps, with plenty of head hammering. 

I have seen crowds take their places in line before the ticket 
window on the night before the game, with the weather far below 
zero, and remain throughout the night and the ensuing day, to 
make certain of seeing the contest. 

So race-conscious are the fans that when I broke into the league 
with Les Canadiens in 1923, the World War was recent enough 
in memory to cause the club officials to worry about my acceptance 
by the team's adherents, inasmuch as I am of German descent. 
So they promptly labeled me "The Swiss Flash." 

Thereafter, when questioned about my racial ancestry, I said 
that I came from Switzerland, where I had developed agility by 
leaping from Alp to Alp. 

While the rumor is untrue that Canadian children are born 
with hockey sticks in their hands, they do learn to skate almost as 
soon as they are able to walk. 

When my own son was scarcely four years old he began a hue 
and cry for a pair of skates. Mrs. Morenz purchased a pair with 
double runners for him, and our son immediately put them on for 
a try out in our ice-covered backyard. 

48 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

A little girl from the neighborhood took one look at him and 
said with vast scorn, "Those aren't skates — they're cheese cut- 
ters." With that he came into the house like a shot, tore off the 
skates, and steadily refused to put them on again. We couldn't 
reason with him so, in the end, he received a pair exactly like his 

I began to skate when seven, and the best part of my life since 
has been spent on the ice. In this, my thirty-second year, and my 
twelfth season in the big leagues, I am aiming for the 500 mark in 
points scored in major competition. At the start of the current 
season I had accumulated 892 points with 252 goals and 14<0 

Obviously, the 108 points which must still be annexed, consti- 
tute a long haul — and Father Time easily overhauls the fastest 

Should he outskate me before I reach my goal, I have hopes 
that young Morenz, now eight and a skating fool, will take up 
where his old man leaves off. 

Luck Goes to Bat 


Jtme, 193^ 

The New York Yankees were playing the St. Louis Cardinals 
at Avon Park in Florida. The score was three to two in favor 
of the Cardinals. It was the eighth inning and the Yankees 
were batting. Two men were out and the bases were full. 

Babe Ruth sauntered forth from the dugout and a hush of 
tense expectancy settled over the fans. Even though this was only 
a pre-season practice game, the crisis was so acute and so full of 
interest, it might just as well have been the deciding contest in a 
world series — so far as the fans were concerned, or so far as Ruth 
himself was concerned. 

Any kind of a base hit meant the ball game for the Yankees, 
and the Babe and the fans both knew it. The fans plunk down 
their money in hope of getting a thrill from a situation such as this, 
and the players dream of such an opportunity. 

The Babe paused before the bat rack. He took his time, as a 
great man about to cope with a grave emergency is entitled to do. 
After solemn deliberation, he picked out his bat, hefted it and 
strolled toward the plate. Just as he was about to take his stance, 
he caught sight of a negro boy standing near the Yankee dugout. 

The Babe put down his bat and beckoned to the colored young- 
ster, who promptly trotted forward, eager and grinning. While 
the fans stared down, for the most part utterly mystified, the King 
of Swat placed his hands on the negro's head, as if conferring a 
title or bestowing a benediction, and earnestly rubbed his fingers 
through the woolly black hair. 

Then the Babe went to bat — struck out on three pitched balls ! 
After the third strike went zipping past, the Babe whirled around 
and took out after the colored lad, chasing him under the grand- 
stand and out of the park. 

The fans howled with glee. From those "in the know" the word 


50 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

went around that the Babe's wrath wasn't caused by striking out 
so much as it was the failure of one of his pet superstitions. Many- 
ball players believe if they rub the kinky head of a colored boy 
that luck will go to bat with them. 

The Babe always insists upon warming up with a certain 
selected player before each game. Benny Bengough used to be his 
favorite. Then he went into a hitting slump and Benny was black- 
listed. For a time Eddie Bennett, the mascot, was his choice. Later 
he switched to Earl Coombs, and afterwards to Bill Dickey. But the 
job never lasts long. Every time the Babe goes into a slump, he 
demands a change. 

Another one of Ruth's superstitions is in regard to opening 
mail. He simply refuses to open it himself, insisting that brings him 
bad luck. His vast amount of mail accumulates unopened until some- 
one — Doc Woods, the trainer, for instance — finds time to sort it for 

On one occasion Steve O'Neill, who was catching for Cleveland 
at the time, sent Ruth a telegram asking him to speak before a 
boys' club. Knowing that Ruth was always ready to co-operate 
in any welfare work for boys, Steve was very much surprised when 
the Babe failed to show up. Several weeks later when Steve was in 
New York he demanded an explanation. 

"What's the big idea of standing me up that way? Didn't you 
get my telegram?" 

"No," Ruth replied, fumbling through a huge stack of mail in 
his locker. "It must have got lost. Oh, I guess this must be it." 

"Well," O'Neill insisted, "that's all right about that one, but 
what about the second one?" 

"Oh, sure!" the Babe blustered. "I got that one all right. I 
answered that one." 

"Oh, yeah?" O'Neill retorted. "Well, you're a big liar. I didn't 
send another one." 

Many baseball superstitions center around bats. Frank Schulte 
of the old Cubs had a special pet bat which he called Black Betsy. 
No other player was permitted to touch it. Schulte himself only 
used it on coming to bat when there were two out and the tying or 
winning run was on base. Then it was his big medicine that seldom 
failed him. 

"Mixing up the bats" is a common practice among big league 
players when a team is in a hitting slump. But if the team happens 

Luck Goes to Bat 51 

to be hitting, woe to the unfortunate bat boy who permits the bats 
to get out of alignment as they lie in a perfect row in front of the 
dugout! For the players will tell you, the same "mixing of bats" 
that has the power to bring a team out of a slump is jnst as effec- 
tive in stopping a rally. 

Lefty Gomez is another player who has his own private little 
superstition. He was about to take the mound against the Wash- 
ington Senators in a certain game at the Yankee Stadium. He got 
his final instructions from Manager Joe McCarthy, took a final 
drink of water, and started up the steps of the dugout. Suddenly 
he stopped, horrified. 

"Where's that flat fungo bat of Burke's?" he demanded. "Who 
moved it?" 

For a moment no one spoke. Then the bat boy, flushed and 
nervous, produced the bat — a practice bat, short and light with 
a flat surface, so the batter can place the ball out into the field 
to whatever man he wants to. 

"I put it over here," the bat boy explained. "I forgot !" 

Gomez solemnly placed the bat at the very end of the bat rack, 
face up, and went back for another drink of water. When he 
emerged from the dugout again, he took care to step lightly on the 
bat's flat surface as he went out to the mound. 

Lefty didn't go very well that day. He was wild and in the 
third inning a line drive from Goslin's bat drove in three runs and 
took Lefty out of the ball game. He walked across the field dis- 
consolately, threw his glove into the corner of the dugout and sat 
down on the bench. 

"That bat jinxed me," he told Joe McCarthy. "I knew I was 
licked when I saw the kid had moved it. I was a cinch to lose." And 
Gomez meant every word he said. He believes implicitly that the 
only way he can ward off the jinx is to step on the flat surface of 
that fungo bat, with elaborate unconcern, as if merely by accident. 

If a player finds a pin, that means a base hit. A load of hay 
also signifies good luck. So does a load of empty barrels, and when 
the players see a load of empty barrels they immediately remove 
their hats. John McGraw, the cagey manager of the Giants, once 
used that superstition to help him win an important series. 

The Giants were playing the Cubs in one of those old-time, 
uproarious pennant making affairs. The afternoon of the first game 

52 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

as the players were assembling in the club house a truck load of 
empty barrels went creaking and rumbling down the street. 

"Oh, baby ! There's luck," said one of the men. "There's a flock 
of base hits for this afternoon." 

Fired by the omen, the Giants won the game. The next day 
another load of empty barrels went past. Again the players were 
elated and again they won. For the rest of the series each day some 
one saw a load of empty barrels. 

After the series was over a swarthy Italian laborer appeared 
at the door of the club house and asked for McGraw. 

"Not in yet," Roger Bresnahan responded. "What do you 
want with him?" 

The Italian explained that he wanted his money. McGraw had 
hired him to drive a wagon load of barrels past the park every day. 

In the days when Eddie Collins was second baseman for the 
Philadelphia Athletics he would park his chewing gum on the 
button of his cap when he went to bat, returning the gum to his 
mouth only after two strikes had been called. Also, he had a lucky 
undershirt which he wore in all world series and championship 
games for ten years or more. That old shirt, tattered and torn, 
patched and repatched, was Eddie's ace in the hole all through his 
big league career. Perhaps he still has it to rely on in his new role 
of business manager of the Boston Red Sox. 

Ted Lyons, the White Sox pitcher, and George Pipgras of the 
Yankees have a superstition they picked up from old timers. When 
they leave the pitching box at the end of an inning they put their 
gloves down most carefully, palm up with thumbs crossed over and 
fingers toward the dugout. That's because in the days when the 
spit-ball was permitted, pitchers parked their slippery elm in their 
gloves between innings, laying out their gloves in that manner. 
Pipgras got the habit from Urban Shocker, perhaps the most 
superstitious player who ever wore big league spikes, and Ted 
learned it from the veteran Urban Faber. 

When Tony Lazzeri of the Yankees and Hughey Critz of the 
Giants take the field they always walk over and move the opposing 
second baseman's glove a few inches from where it was tossed. Critz, 
in addition, always picks up a pebble from the infield at the start 
of every inning. 

Gabby Hartnett, catcher for the Chicago Cubs, will travel far 
out of his way to avoid stepping between the catcher and the 

Luck Goes to Bat 53 

umpire when he goes to the plate. If Gene Robertson, formerly 
with the Yankees, succeeded in getting a hit on his first time at 
the plate he would thereafter studiously retrace his identical steps 
on each trip from the dugout. Eppa Rixey, the elongated left 
hander of the Cincinnati Reds, after losing a tough game always 
breaks up a chair in the club house. Fred Toney, the old Giant 
pitcher, who worked in the days before sanitary drinking fountains, 
used to crash the water bucket to pieces after a bad inning. 

It's been a long time since the inspired Boston Braves of 1914 
walked away with the National League pennant and a world cham- 
pionship, but veteran players still insist that there was the luckiest 
ball club in history. 

"I never saw such a gang of baseball misfits," John McGraw 
once remarked. "They were the dumbest looking ball club I ever 
saw. Yet they ran off with the pennant — the lucky stiffs !" 

Those Braves were a superstitious lot — and the most super- 
stitious man in the outfit was Manager George Stallings. Bits of 
paper or peanut shells, scattered about the ball park, were 
Stallings' chief hoodoo. Nothing, he believed, was a more potent 
omen of bad luck. During those fevered pennant days it was no 
uncommon sight to see Stallings down on his knees in front of the 
bench, picking up stray bits of paper and peanut shells that had 
landed there from the stands. 

Opposing players knew Stallings' superstition, and nothing 
delighted them more than to tear up a score card and surrepti- 
tiously strew the fragments in front of the Braves' bench when 
Stallings wasn't looking. For a time George hired Oscar Dugey, 
ostensibly as a coach. But Oscar's real job was to keep the bench 
clean of all trash. Dugey still maintains that in his two years with 
Stallings he completely ruined his arm shying stones at pigeons 
that flocked around the bench to get the peanuts thrown by oppos- 
ing players. 

Stallings also had another superstition that was ludicrous, but 
painful. If a batting rally started he wouldn't change the position 
he was accidentally caught in, until the rally was over — no matter 
how cramped and uncomfortable his position. Sometimes he would 
be caught looking at the stands. He'd hold that pose like a statue. 
Sometimes he would be stooped over and have his back to the play. 
That didn't make any difference. He'd hold it. Sometimes he would 
be caught gazing at the sky. 

54 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

When he was caught like that, and couldn't see what was going 
on out on the field he would be miserable. He would call a substi- 
tute, and have the substitute tell him every pitch, every move, every 
single detail. 

Once he was caught crouched down in a corner of the dugout 
picking up a match. On that occasion the Braves batted all the 
way around. Stallings wouldn't move, and for fifteen minutes he 
suffered agony. At the finish his leg was so cramped that he had 
to be carried to the club house and given a massage. 

Thus, luck goes to bat. 

The Iron City Express 


December, 1936 

Two hours before he would be taxi-ing down to Old Madison 
Square Garden to fight Tommy Gibbons on a March evening 
in 1922, Harry Greb lay on his back across the bed in his 
Pennsylvania Hotel room. He was blind in one eye, a secret shared 
only by a few trusted friends, was outweighed by seven and a half 
pounds (Greb 163V2 9 Gibbons 171), and was on the short end of 
2-to-l betting. The room was crowded with pugs past their prime 
and the atmosphere chunky with small talk. 

Downstairs in the lobby, Pittsburgh gamblers, who had come 
over to back Greb, were heaving chairs at the New York coterie 
who refused to cover on the betting odds. A friend phoned Greb, 
who rushed down in fighting trunks and dressing gown. By then 
the lobby was a shambles, Pittsburgh vs. New York, with some of 
the boys slinging furniture from the mezzanine. Greb jumped up 
on a reading table, and with a few choice epithets brought about 
peace and contentment. An hour later, he was in the ring with the 
man who had come to New York with 23 consecutive knockouts to 
his credit and two years later went 15 rounds with Dempsey. 

It was New York's first view of the principals, and it watched 
amazed while at intervals both parties spat out teeth in a fight 
featured by rough tactics, at which Greb was the aggressor and 
the more adept. He won 12 of the 15 rounds and got the decision. 

That was the Greb who for nine years had broken all accepted 
training rules, who in an early professional fight in 1913 was 
knocked out by Joe Chip but came on to engage in more than 250 
bouts and to win two titles before he died in 1926 — the Greb who 
in his early ring days clutched the ropes with unsteady hands and 
told those within hearing to come back to his dressing room where 
he would refund every cent they had lost when the same Gibbons 
had beaten him in their first fight. It was the Greb whom New York 


56 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

newspapers were later to call the Pittsburgh Windmill, the Iron 
City Express, the Ring Marvel, the Inexhaustible, and yet it was 
not Greb at the height of his pugilistic brilliance. 

Before he ever fought in New York, and when he was little more 
than an oversized welterweight, he won with such monotonous regu- 
larity that when he spotted Gunboat Smith thirty pounds in weight 
and knocked him out, out-of-town newspapers carried only a squib. 
Two years earlier when Dempsey got up off the floor to do the same 
thing, it established him as the foremost heavyweight contender. 

Greb beat other heavyweights who had given Dempsey trouble 
before and after he won the title from Willard in 1919. In 1917, 
he beat Willy Meehan, who the following year out-fumbled 

He fought big Bill Brennan six no-decision bouts — Brennan, 
who, after Dempsey became champion, cut him to ribbons for eleven 
rounds only to go down, and out, in the twelfth under the latter's 

In retrospect and by comparison, Greb belonged to the day of 
Ketchel, for, like him, he fought as often as he could get a fight 
and gave opponents up to fifty pounds in weight and knocked 
their ears off. 

But, unlike Ketchel, he was not a puncher ; he was a charging, 
unorthodox clubber who was coming faster in the last round than 
in the first. The idea that he would ever lose a fight was the only 
one that could amaze him. 

Outside the ring, he believed life was meant for enjoyment. He 
thought fighting was so much necessary nonsense — like getting 
drunk — and that fighters were never bargains at any price. He 
used his influence to get bouts for stablemates, but he refused to 
take the boys seriously. 

One day, he was talking to Harry Keck, the Pittsburgh sports 
editor, about a former stablemate — a junior lightweight named 
Cuddy de Marco. Greb said, "I saw Cuddy the other day, and you 
know, he's got a busted konk and looks just like a prize-fighter!" 

When a title was not involved, Greb was never sure how many 
rounds the articles called for and he didn't care. 

On his way to California to fight Ted Moore in an over-the- 
weight match (Greb was middleweight champion of the world), he 
stopped off in New Orleans to fight Tony Marullo, one of the 
toughest boys in the ring. He was met at the train by sports 

The Iron City Express 57 

writers, who, dropping him at his hotel, suggested they would see 
him at the gym that afternoon when he limbered up before the 
fight. But Greb said he wasn't going to limber up, that he had 
fought a guy the night before, and that he was very limber, 
indeed. After some persuasion, however, he agreed to work out, and 
on his way to the gym, unconcernedly inquired if any of the sports 
writers knew how many rounds the fight was scheduled for. That 
night, for 15 rounds, he lambasted Marullo from here to there and 
back again and left town on the midnight train. A few nights later, 
he repeated against Mr. Moore in California. 

After the Gibbons fight, Greb came back to New York to fight 
Tunney. He was not much for pre-battle statements, but he allowed 
that he would lift the American light-heavyweight crown from 
Tunney and punch him full of holes in the process. 

For this fight, in May, 1922, Greb came in at 162% against 
174% for Tunney. Greb's frame was beginning to creak under the 
strain of nine years of ring warfare, he was 28 years old, and the 
sight in his good eye was failing. An even worse handicap was the 
threat of newspapers and the Boxing Commission that he would 
be thrown out of the ring if he roughed Tunney as he had Gibbons 
a few months before. 

Tunney, on the other hand, was young and strong and coming 
along. He had seen Greb fight and he thought he had what it took 
to bring him down — patience, and a right jolt to the heart. It was 
good logic, but he never got a chance to use it against the wily 
Greb, who in the first round rushed him to close quarters and made 
him hit low repeatedly by pulling himself up at the waist and 
taking in foul territory punches that otherwise would have landed 
in fair. It was Greb strategy to make Tunney look bad and it 
worked. The referee told Tunney to keep his punches up. 

After that, it was a typical Greb fight. In close, he mauled, 
slapped, heeled, hit on the break-aways and used his knees. When 
Tunney began to work out a defense, Greb called on more tricks 
and brought into play an artistic left thumb to Tunney's eye. 

In the end, he gave Tunney over to his handlers, a bleeding, 
helpless hulk, and loped off with his title. That night, he rented a 
night club orchestra and danced until the musicians fell asleep. 

Greb got his blind eye in a fight with Kid Norfolk in Pitts- 
burgh. Before the bout he had learned that Norfolk was blind in 
one eye. Greb said that if the going got too tough he could stop 

58 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

him by giving him the thumb in the other eye. He did, after the 
Kid dropped him in the third round. But the Kid gave it right 
back to him. Next day Greb complained that he saw a red ball of 
fire in front of the thumbed eye and that it wouldn't go away. A 
friend took him to a specialist, who said the retina was detached 
and advised him to quit fighting. Greb swore his friend to secrecy 
on the eye, and kept on fighting. 

Unlike Baer and Camera and other present-day fighters, Greb 
never allowed himself to be subdivided ; he owned himself, his opti- 
mistic faith in managers never getting beyond the stage of permit- 
ting them to carry his baggage. 

He was ready to go into the ring on short notice, though a 
great deal of his training consisted in leafing a list of phone 

He was tossed out of the ring on at least one occasion for "not 
trying." Arm-weary from punching Captain Bob Roper, he sought 
to kill time by trying to sink his teeth into the lobe of the Captain's 
ear. The City (Pittsburgh) Boxing Commission called this "horse- 
play" and handed Greb a suspension. 

Back in Pittsburgh, Greb's home town, five out of six fight fans 
would tell you Greb was a trifler. But they put their money on his 
nose every time he crawled through the ropes. When he fought in 
New York, they came in "Greb Specials" to back their boy 

Such a crowd followed Greb to New York the night he defended 
his light-heavyweight title against Tommy Loughran, whose Phila- 
delphia admirers came in "Loughran Specials" and were rash 
enough to establish him a heavy favorite. The two contingents met 
at the Pennsylvania station and when Greb climbed into the ring 
he was the prohibitive favorite. 

His work wasn't up to standard in the first three rounds, which 
he lost, but he found himself in the fourth, and from there on, it 
was Greb at his best. In the clinches, he used his head as a battering 
ram, and held with one hand as he hit with the other; and on the 
breaks he used his shoulders and elbows. He won 10 of the 15 
rounds in a manner that left no doubt even in the minds of the 

Greb lost his title back to Tunney in a return fight, but the 
decision was so unpopular that William Muldoon, then chairman 
of the New York State Boxing Commission, denounced it as a 
"steal." They fought three times after that and, if memory serves 

The Iron City Express 59 

me, Greb came out of the last one with two cracked ribs. He thought 
Tunney "carried" him through the final rounds, because Tommy 
Gibbons, who had just gone 15 rounds with Dempsey and whom 
Tunney wanted to fight, was looking on. Later, admitting Tunney's 
superiority, Greb said: 

"That guy is getting too big and tough and he's hitting too 
hard ; it's time for somebody else to fight him for a change. He's a 
good boy and he'll beat Dempsey if they ever fight." 

Greb was middleweight champion of the world in his last two 
Tunney fights, having won the title from Johnny Wilson, a mur- 
derous southpaw puncher, in a roughhouse scuffle in 1923. 

The crowds that followed Greb to the gymnasium to watch him 
work were usually disappointed. He'd play a game of handball, box 
a round or so, punch the light bag for rhythm, and call it a day. 
He was wont to walk up to a Sharkey or a Baer and say : 

"You big bum, why don't you do your fighting in the ring?" 

Greb had little traffic with New York sports writers ; he wasn't 
interested in their opinions, and after a fight, scarcely read their 
stories. But he read everything that Harry Keck, Chester Smith 
and Harvey Boyle, back home in Pittsburgh, had to say about him, 
though it was not always pleasant. 

Greb seldom planned a fight in advance ; he depended on speed, 
withering and relentless. But he had a very definite plan for his 
fight with Mickey Walker, and that was to make Walker carry the 
fight to him, staking his lone chance of victory on his own ability 
to absorb a dreadful beating in the early rounds, and to come from 
behind after Walker had spent himself. 

Everything favored Walker, who was welterweight champion 
of the world. He was young and growing and a terrific hitter; he 
would enter the ring close to the middleweight poundage and as 
strong as a bull. 

Greb, on the other hand, was 32 years old, was rapidly losing 
the sight in his one good eye and had to get down from 175 pounds. 
To do it, he lived on synthetic orange juice, which he bought at 
Broadway holes-in-the-wall, ate just enough food to keep alive, 
and had to sweat out in steam rooms every day. On the afternoon 
of the fight, he had to run twice around the Central Park Reser- 
voir to get rid of surplus weight. 

On the card with him were Jimmy Slattery vs. Dave Shade, 
the former making his debut in the big time. Slattery was knocked 

60 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

out in the third round and left the ring to weep in Greb's dressing 
room while the latter awaited the gong that would send him into 
the hardest fight of his career. 

Greb entered the ring first, wan and frail, followed by Walker, 
looking hard and optimistic. Greb drew boos from a predominantly 
Walker crowd. The weights were: 

Greb, 159; Walker, 152. 

For four rounds on that July night in 1925, Greb absorbed one 
of the worst beatings any man has ever been called on to take. 
There were shouts of "Stop it!" To the spectators it looked like 
the end of the trail for Greb ; to Greb, it was what the blueprints 
had called for in the early rounds. 

But now the blueprints called for reverse action. Coming out 
for the fifth round, he ducked under Walker's lead and held. He 
looked over Walker's shoulder and smiled — a smile that said, "Now 
I'm going to work on him" — and he began firing leather. Greb 
outslugged, outroughed, and made Walker break ground, as he 
had said he would, in a fight which, before it ended, saw the referee 
twice knocked down when he tried to separate the principals. Greb 
dazzled Walker with his speed, twirled him around until he was 
dizzy, then stepped back and hit him while he spun. Walker went 
down to his finger-tips in a later round and was so completely 
baffled that he stood crying and talking to Greb in the center of 
the ring. In the fifteenth, it seemed that Greb could have knocked 
him out if he had chosen, but Walker, though in a state of collapse, 
finished on his feet. Greb, helping him to his corner, patted him on 
the back, and said, "You're all right, Mickey!" 

Joe Humphreys held Greb's hand aloft and said: 

"Winner, and still Champion!" 
; Greb shuffled back to his dressing room, took the still sobbing 
Slattery under his arm, and an hour later was dancing at the Silver 
Slipper. Between dances, he sought to console the broken-hearted 
Slattery, but the latter just sat at the table and cried. 

Greb was only a shell of his former self when six months later, 
in February, 1926, he peeled down to the middleweight poundage 
and lost his title to Tiger Flowers. 

A few months later, he was punching the small bag at Phila- 
delphia Jack O'Brien's gym in preparation for a return match 
with Flowers when Jack Dempsey sauntered in. Dempsey was com- 

The Iron City Express 61 

ing out of retirement to defend his heavyweight championship 
against Tunney. 

"Hello, Harry," he said, extending his hand. 

Greb said, "Hello, Jack," and touched his gloved hand to 
Dempsey's while he kept up a rat-a-tat-tat on the bag with the 

Dempsey looked on for a moment, told Greb he looked good, 
then said: 

"How about training me for Tunney?" 

"What'll you pay me?" asked Greb. 

"Eight thousand," said Dempsey. 

"Not enough," said Greb. "Make it ten." 

"Can't do it," said Dempsey. 

"Nothing doing," said Greb, still punching the bag. "I want to 
fight you myself, anyhow !" 

"Forget it," said Dempsey, leaving. "Nobody'd pay to see a 
fight like that." 

Whereat Greb smiled, obviously remembering how, in a training- 
camp workout, he moved in on Dempsey, leaned a shower of right- 
hand leads against his chin, then moved out before the Champ, 
punching out of a weave, could get his range. For two days he had 
the great Tiger Jack floundering awkwardly about the ring, trying 
vainly, like Mickey Walker, to reach with a solid punch the human 
windmill that swept about him. It was what Dempsey needed to 
put him in shape, but Manager Jack Kearns immediately dismissed 
Greb for being too aggressive. 

This would be in 1920 when Dempsey was getting ready for 
his fight with Billy Miske in Benton Harbor. A year or so later, 
Greb accepted terms from Charley Murray, the Buffalo promoter, 
for a fight with Dempsey. But again Manager Kearns interfered, 
saying, "No, thanks. We don't want Greb." 

Greb bet his entire purse on himself when he met Flowers in a 
return match. The fight was rough, and more than once Flowers 
complained to the referee that Greb was gouging his eyes out with 
his thumb. But Greb failed to regain his title, though the referee 
voted for him and the majority of the spectators booed the decision. 

It broke Gieb's heart and for the first time following a fight he 
broke down and cried. It was not because he had failed to win back 
his title, but because he felt he had been robbed of a justly earned 


EsauiRE's First Sports Reader 

He never fought again, and four months later, he died following 
a minor operation in Atlantic City. 

But back home in Pittsburgh, his admirers will remember him 
as a man with a hurrah and a cheer in his heart — a man who 
thrilled them when he was in there shooting. His intimates, like 
Harry Keck, will remember him for what he was both inside and 
outside those ropes. 

On tlie Blue Water 


April, 1936 

Certainly' there is no hunting like the hunting of man and 
those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, 
never really care for anything else thereafter. You will meet 
them doing various things with resolve, but their interest rarely 
holds because after the other thing ordinary life is as flat as the 
taste of wine when the taste buds have been burned off your tongue. 
Wine, when your tongue has been burned clean with lye and water, 
feels like puddle water in your mouth, while mustard feels like 
axle-grease, and you can smell crisp, fried bacon, but when you 
taste it, there is only a feeling of crinkly lard. 

You can learn about this matter of the tongue by coming into 
the kitchen of a villa on the Riviera late at night and taking a drink 
from what should be a bottle of Evian water and which turns out 
to be Eau de Javel, a concentrated lye product used for cleaning 
sinks. The taste buds on your tongue, if burned off by Eau de 
Javel, will begin to function again after about a week. At what 
rate other things regenerate one does not know, since you lose 
track of friends and the things one could learn in a week were 
mostly learned a long time ago. 

The other night I was talking with a good friend to whom all 
hunting is dull except elephant hunting. To him there is no sport 
in anything unless there is great danger and, if the danger is not 
enough, he will increase it for his own satisfaction. A hunting 
companion of his had told me how this friend was not satisfied 
with the risks of ordinary elephant hunting but would, if possible, 
have the elephants driven, or turned, so he could take them head-on, 
so it was a choice of killing them with the difficult frontal shot as 
they came, trumpeting, with their ears spread, or having them run 
over him. This is to elephant hunting what the German cult of 
suicide climbing is to ordinary mountaineering, and I suppose it is, 


64 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

in a way, an attempt to approximate the old hunting of the armed 
man who is hunting you. 

This friend was speaking of elephant hunting and urging me 
to hunt elephant, as he said that once you took it up no other 
hunting would mean anything to you. I was arguing that I enjoyed 
all hunting and shooting, any sort I could get, and had no desire 
to wipe this capacity for enjoyment out with the Eau de Javel of 
the old elephant coming straight at you with his trunk up and 
his ears spread. 

"Of course you like that big fishing too," he said rather sadly. 
"Frankly, I can't see where the excitement is in that." 

"You'd think it was marvelous if the fish shot at you with 
Tommy guns or jumped back and forth through the cockpit with 
swords on the ends of their noses." 

"Don't be silly," he said. "But frankly I don't see where the 
thrill is." 

"Look at so and so," I said. "He's an elephant hunter and this 
last year he's gone fishing for big fish and he's goofy about it. He 
must get a kick out of it or he wouldn't do it." 

"Yes," my friend said. "There must be something about it but 
I can't see it. Tell me where you get a thrill out of it." 

"I'll try to write it in a piece sometime," I told him. 

"I wish you would," he said. "Because you people are sensible 
on other subjects. Moderately sensible I mean." 

"I'll write it." 

In the first place, the Gulf Stream and the other great ocean 
currents are the last wild country there is left. Once you are out 
of sight of land and of the other boats you are more alone than 
you can ever be hunting and the sea is the same as it has been 
since before men ever went on it in boats. In a season fishing you 
will see it oily flat as the becalmed galleons saw it while they drifted 
to the westward; white-capped with a fresh breeze as they saw it 
running with the trades; and in high, rolling blue hills the tops 
blowing off them like snow as they were punished by it, so that 
sometimes you will see three great hills of water with your fish 
jumping from the top of the farthest one and if you tried to make 
a turn to go with him without picking your chance, one of those 
breaking crests would roar down in on you with a thousand tons 
of water and you would hunt no more elephants, Richard, my lad. 

There is no danger from the fish, but anyone who goes on the 

On the Blue Water 65 

sea the year around in a small power boat does not seek danger. 
You may be absolutely sure that in a year you will have it without 
seeking, so you try always to avoid it all you can. 

Because the Gulf Stream is an unexploited country, only the 
very fringe of it ever being fished, and then only at a dozen places 
in thousands of miles of current, no one knows what fish live in it, 
or how great size they reach or what age, or even what kinds of 
fish and animals live in it at different depths. When you are drift- 
ing, out of sight of land, fishing four lines, sixty, eighty, one hun- 
dred and one hundred fifty fathoms down, in water that is seven 
hundred fathoms deep you never know what may take the small 
tuna that you use for bait, and every time the line starts to run 
off the reel, slowly first, then with a scream of the click as the rod 
bends and you feel it double and the huge weight of the friction 
of the line rushing through that depth of water while you pump 
and reel, pump and reel, pump and reel, trying to get the belly out 
of the line before the fish jumps, there is always a thrill that needs 
no danger to make it real. It may be a marlin that will jump high 
and clear off to your right and then go off in a series of leaps, 
throwing a splash like a speedboat in a sea as you shout for the 
boat to turn with him watching the line melting off the reel before 
the boat can get around. Or it may be a broadbill that will show 
wagging his great broadsword. Or it may be some fish that you will 
never see at all that will head straight out to the northwest like 
a submerged submarine and never show and at the end of five 
hours the angler has a straightened-out hook. There is always a 
feeling of excitement when a fish takes hold when you are drifting 

In hunting you know what you are after and the top you can 
get is an elephant. But who can say what you will hook sometime 
when drifting in a hundred and fifty fathoms in the Gulf Stream? 
There are probably marlin and swordfish to which the fish we 
have seen caught are pygmies ; and every time a fish takes the bait 
drifting you have a feeling perhaps you are hooked to one of 

Carlos, our Cuban mate, who is fifty-three years old and has 
been fishing for marlin since he went in the bow of a skiff with his 
father when he was seven, was fishing drifting deep one time when 
he hooked a white marlin. The fish jumped twice and then sounded 
and when he sounded suddenly Carlos felt a great weight and he 

66 EsauntE's First Sports Reader 

could not hold the line which went out and down and down irre- 
sistibly until the fish had taken out over a hundred and fifty 
fathoms. Carlos says it felt as heavy and solid as though he were 
hooked to the bottom of the sea. Then suddenly the strain was 
loosened but he could feel the weight of his original fish and pulled 
it up stone dead. Some toothless fish like a swordfish or marlin had 
closed his jaws across the middle of the eighty pound white marlin 
and squeezed it and held it so that every bit of the insides of the 
fish had been crushed out while the huge fish moved off with the 
eighty-pound fish in its mouth. Finally it let go. What size of a fish 
would that be? I thought it might be a giant squid but Carlos said 
there were no sucker marks on the fish and that it showed plainly 
the shape of the marlin's mouth where he had crushed it. 

Another time an old man fishing alone in a skiff out of Ca- 
banas hooked a great marlin that, on the heavy sashcord handline, 
pulled the skiff far out to sea. Two days later the old man was 
picked up by fishermen sixty miles to the eastward, the head and 
forward part of the marlin lashed alongside. What was left of the 
fish, less than half, weighed eight hundred pounds. The old man 
had stayed with him a day, a night, a day and another night while 
the fish swam deep and pulled the boat. When he had come up the 
old man had pulled the boat up on him and harpooned him. Lashed 
alongside the sharks had hit him and the old man had fought them 
out alone in the Gulf Stream in a skiff, clubbing them, stabbing 
at them, lunging at them with an oar until he was exhausted and 
the sharks had eaten all that they could hold. He was crying in 
the boat when the fishermen picked him up, half crazy from his 
Joss, and the sharks were still circling the boat. 

But what is the excitement in catching them from a launch? It 
comes from the fact that they are strange and wild things of un- 
believable speed and power and a beauty, in the water and leaping, 
that is indescribable, which you would never see if you did not fish 
for them, and to which you are suddenly harnessed so that you feel 
their speed, their force and their savage power as intimately as 
if you were riding a bucking horse. For half an hour, an hour, or 
five hours, you are fastened to the fish as much as he is fastened 
to you and you tame him and break him the way a wild horse is 
broken and finally lead him to the boat. For pride and because the 
fish is worth plenty of money in the Havana market, you gaff him 
at the boat and bring him on board, but the having him in the 

On the Blue Water 67 

boat isn't the excitement; it is while you are fighting him that is 
the fun. 

If the fish is hooked in the bony part of the mouth I am sure 
the hook hurts him no more than the harness hurts the angler. A 
large fish when he is hooked often does not feel the hook at all and 
will swim toward the boat, unconcerned, to take another bait. At 
others times he will swim away deep, completely unconscious of 
the hook, and it is when he feels himself held and pressure exerted 
to turn him, that he knows something is wrong and starts to make 
his fight. Unless he is hooked where it hurts he makes his fight not 
against the pain of the hook, but against being captured and if, 
when he is out of sight, you figure what he is doing, in what direc- 
tion he is pulling when deep down, and why, you can convince him 
and bring him to the boat by the same system you break a wild 
horse. It is not necessary to kill him, or even completely exhaust 
him to bring him to the boat. 

To kill a fish that fights deep you pull against the direction he 
wants to go until he is worn out and dies. It takes hours and when 
the fish dies the sharks are liable to get him before the angler 
can raise him to the top. To catch such a fish quickly you figure by 
trying to hold him absolutely, which direction he is working (a 
sounding fish is going in the direction the line slants in the water 
when you have put enough pressure on the drag so the line would 
break if you held it any tighter) ; then get ahead of him on that 
direction and he can be brought to the boat without killing him. 
You do not tow him or pull him with the motor boat; you use the 
engine to shift your position just as you would walk up or down 
stream with a salmon. A fish is caught most surely from a small 
boat such as a dory since the angler can shut down on his drag 
and simply let the fish pull the boat. Towing the boat will kill him 
in time. But the most satisfaction is to dominate and convince the 
fish and bring him intact in everything but spirit to the boat as 
rapidly as possible. 

"Very instructive," says the friend. "But where does the thrill 
come in?" 

The thrill comes when you are standing at the wheel drinking 
a cold bottle of beer and watching the outriggers jump the baits 
so they look like small live tuna leaping along and then behind one 
you see a long dark shadow wing up and then a big spear thrust 

6S Esquire's First Sports Reader 

out followed by an eye and head and dorsal fin and the tuna jumps 
with the wave and he's missed it. 

"Marlin," Carlos yells from the top of the house and stamps 
his feet up and down, the signal that a fish is raised. He swarms 
down to the wheel and you go back to where the rod rests in its 
socket and there comes the shadow again, fast as the shadow of 
a plane moving over the water, and the spear, head, fin and shoul- 
ders smash out of water and you hear the click the closepin makes 
as the line pulls out and the long bight of line whishes through 
the water as the fish turns and as you hold the rod, you feel it 
double and the butt kicks you in the belly as you come back hard 
and feel his weight, as you strike him again and again, and again. 

Then the heavy rod arc-ing out toward the fish, and the reel 
in a band-saw zinging scream, the marlin leaps clear and long, 
silver in the sun long, round as a hogshead and banded with laven- 
der stripes and, when he goes into the water, it throws a column 
of spray like a shell lighting. 

Then he comes out again, and the spray roars, and again, then 
the line feels slack and out he bursts headed across and in, then 
jumps wildly twice more seeming to hang high and stiff in the air 
before falling to throw the column of water and you can see the 
hook in the corner of his jaw. 

Then in a series of jumps like a greyhound he heads to the 
northwest and standing up, you follow him in the boat, the line 
taut as a banjo string and little drops coming from it until you 
finally get the belly of it clear of that friction against the water 
and have a straight pull out toward the fish. 

And all the time Carlos is shouting, "Oh, God the bread of my 
children! Oh look at the bread of my children! Joseph and Mary 
look at the bread of my children jump! There it goes the bread of 
my children ! He'll never stop the bread the bread the bread of my 
children !" 

This striped marlin jumped, in a straight line to the northwest, 
fifty-three times, and every time he went out it was a sight to make 
your heart stand still. Then he sounded and I said to Carlos, "Get 
me the harness. Now I've got to pull him up the bread of your 

"I couldn't stand to see it," he says. "Like a filled pocketbook 
jumping. He can't go down deep now. He's caught too much air 

On the Blue Water 69 

"Like a race horse over obstacles," Julio says. "Is the harness 
all right? Do you want water?" 

"No." Then kidding Carlos, "What's this about the bread of 
your children?" 

"He always says that," says Julio. "You should hear him curse 
me when we would lose one in the skiff." 

"What will the bread of your children weigh?" I ask with 
mouth dry, the harness taut across shoulders, the rod a flexible pro- 
longation of the sinew pulling ache of arms, the sweat salty in my 

"Four hundred and fifty," says Carlos. 

"Never," says Julio. 

"Thou and thy never," says Carlos. "The fish of another always 
weighs nothing to thee." 

"Three seventy-five," Julio raises his estimate. "Not a pound 


Carlos says something unprintable and Julio comes up to four 

The fish is nearly whipped now and the dead ache is out of 
raising him, and then, while lifting, I feel something slip. It holds 
for an instant and then the line is slack. 

"He's gone," I say and unbuckle the harness. 

"The bread of your children," Julio says to Carlos. 

"Yes," Carlos says. "Yes. Joke and no joke yes. El pan de mis 
hijos. Three hundred and fifty pounds at ten cents a pound. How 
many days does a man work for that in the winter? How cold is it 
at three o'clock in the morning on all those days? And the fog 
and the rain in a norther. Every time he jumps the hook cutting 
the hole a little bigger in his jaw. Ay how he could jump. How 
he could jump!" 

"The bread of your children," says Julio. 

"Don't talk about that any more," said Carlos. 

No it is not elephant hunting. But we get a kick out of it. 
When you have a family and children, your family, or my family, 
or the family of Carlos, you do not have to look for danger. There 
is always plenty of danger when you have a family. 

And after a while the danger of others is the only danger and 
[there is no end to it nor any pleasure in it nor does it help to think 
about it. 

But there is great pleasure in being on the sea, in the unknown 

70 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

wild suddenness of a great fish ; in his life and death which he lives 
for you in an hour while your strength is harnessed to his; and 
there is satisfaction in conquering this thing which rules the sea 
it lives in. 

Then in the morning of the day after you have caught a good 
fish, when the man who carried him to the market in a handcart 
brings the long roll of heavy silver dollars wrapped in a newspaper 
on board it is very satisfactory money. It really feels like money. 

"There's the bread of your children," you say to Carlos. 

"In the time of the dance of the millions," he says, "a fish like 
that was worth two hundred dollars. Now it is thirty. On the other 
hand a fisherman never starves. The sea is very rich." 

"And the fisherman always poor." 

"No. Look at you. You are rich." 

"Like hell," you say. "And the longer I fish the poorer I'll be. 
I'll end up fishing with you for the market in a dinghy." 

"That I never believe," says Carlos devoutly. "But look. That 
fishing in a dinghy is very interesting. You would like it." 

"I'll look forward to it," you say. 

"What we need for prosperity is a war," Carlos says. "In the 
time of the war with Spain and in the last war the fishermen were 
actually rich." 

"All right," you say. "If we have a war you get the dinghy 

A Living from Tennis? 


March, 193b 

Just before I left Chicago last winter to play exhibition and 
tournament tennis in Florida, a friend of mine said, "That's 
pretty soft for you. With all expenses paid, you'll live in 
the best hotels and enjoy a lazy, carefree life, while we're battling 
snow and ice up north." 

I didn't debate the matter with him, but I envied him. Why? 

Well, he has a good job ; on the first and fifteenth of. each month 
he gets a substantial check from his firm. He is able, aggressive 
and progressive. He will probably be making important money 
five, ten or twenty years from now. The "bounce" may be gone 
from his legs and his eyes probably won't be so keen — but that 
won't matter. 

I'm not moaning. Tennis has been good to me. Whether it has 
been good for me, is another question. 

Add up its advantages: Thanks to tennis I've spent five out 
of the past six summers in Europe, hobnobbing with the best people 
(so-called) in England and on the Continent. With the exception 
of 193$ (when I retired to devote myself to business) I have been 
a member of the American Davis Cup team since 1928, with attend- 
ant luxuries. As a Cup player, I'm invited to be the guest of 
resorts to play in exhibition matches or tournaments. Tennis, 
therefore, means travel . . . plenty of leisure . . . breakfast in 
bed . . . hosts of fairweather friends . . . pretty girls around 
and about ... (a chance to rub elbows with the rich, but none 
of their money ever rubs off) ... name in the newspapers . . . 
people calling you by your first name — what more could a man 
ask? I like it — that's the rub! 

If ever I have a son who is good enough to be a topnotcher 
in tennis I'll permit him to compete in the sport in college and, 
possibly, for a year or two afterward. Then, I'll break both his 


72 EsauiRE's First Sports Reader 

legs, if necessary, to keep him from following the sport as a 

For, to compete successfully, he will have to devote time to the 
sport when he should be gaining experience in the business or pro- 
fession which he will have to follow ultimately. 

This article is not intended to rap amateur tennis. In my 
judgment, nothing excels it as a sport. But that's what it should 
be — a sport and not a career. 

Why don't I quit if that's how I feel about it? 

Or, why don't I turn professional, and pick up a few thousand 
dollars ? 

I'll get around to the answers to both of those questions, pres- 

In the interim, I'd like to knock skyhigh one of the popular 
beliefs, fostered by sports writers of the cynical school, that a high 
ranking star can make a good living out of amateur tennis. 

I've yet to find the way to do it, and I've been participating in 
national and international tennis competition for almost a decade. 
By this time I should be hep to the profit angles, if there are any. 

Tilden is supposed to have made from $12,000 a year upward 
while still an amateur. But that was back in the days when money 
grew on bushes. 

A top flight star in amateur tennis today admittedly can live 
luxuriously en route to the scene of the tournament, while the 
matches are in progress, and on the return journey. Period ! Dur- 
ing the long stretches between tournaments he merely has the whole 
wide world to make a living in. 

A Davis Cup player who is of frugal nature (few are, because 
they're young) and who is willing to indulge in small chiseling, may 
accumulate an "operating profit" of perhaps two or three hundred 
dollars a year. 

And that, mind you, is top! 

Back in the days when I was coming up, my tennis cost my 
father about $1200 a year. If a balance sheet were drawn cover- 
ing my entire career it would show an operating loss for the Lott 

Now, let's take a look at the hundreds of city, local and sec- 
tional champions who flock to the tournaments from all points of 
the country. They are the "ham-and-eggers" of tennis. How do 

A Living from Tennis? 73 

they get by? How do they live, as they journey cross country from 
tournament to tournament? 

Well, as a rule there isn't a dollar in a carload of them — but 
to me, they are the most interesting part of the tennis show. They 
have a genuine love $. or the game, they're ambitious, they're in there 
pitching for all they're worth. When one of them knocks off a 
seeded star, there is wide and general rejoicing among them. 

Many of them pay their own freight to the tournaments. There, 
if they are lucky, and have a mite of standing, they may be put 
up in a private home by some kindly tennis enthusiast. 

Others who are a step higher on the tennis ladder — who may 
perchance have won a fairly important tournament or two — may 
be sent to larger tournaments by their local associations. The 
association may provide as much as $100 and the boy stretches 
that over the season, perhaps receiving transportation and being 
housed in a private home or hotel while participating. 

Still others, who are good enough to be ranked among the top 
twenty in U. S. tennis, for instance, may receive expense money 
sufficient to cover their transportation, food and lodging from the 
tournament committees. 

All have a good time and contrive to survive. Sometimes they 
exercise ingenuity to get to and from the tournament economically. 
For example, one Texas boy, for the past several seasons, has 
bought an old flivver each summer. In this vehicle he transports 
other young Texas stars cross country to play "the Eastern Cir- 
cuit" ; i. e., the string of successive tournaments held each summer 
on the Atlantic coast. He charges the other boys a flat rate per 

The fact that the participants are not allowed expense accounts 
which can be called lavish isn't the result of profiteering on the 
part of the organizations which stage the tournaments. Except for 
the important national meets, the clubs holding the tournaments 
consider themselves lucky if they break even, for the game does 
not produce "gates" comparable to those of more highly pub- 
licized sports, such as football. 

If there's so little money in it — and I am one who considers 
money not the root of evil, but a comfort and a joy — why do I 
keep at it? If I realize that it won't always be possible to eat break- 
fast in bed at the Westchester Biltmore, why don't I devote all of 
my time now to a business or profession? 

74 EsatJntE's Fiest Sports Reader 

The answer is that I am in business — the insurance business — 
and now burn up plenty of shoe leather explaining to only faintly 
interested persons what a delight an insurance policy can be. Any 
truthful insurance man will tell you that the business is not exactly 
booming at the moment. Even by devoting twenty-eight hours a 
day, seven days a week to it, I would not, I suspect, be rolling in 

But that fact isn't the real reason why I'm continuing. 

The truth is that I have some unfinished business in amateur 

For one thing, I've never won the National Men's Singles. On 
four different occasions— in 1928, 1929, 1930 and in 1933— I've 
been on the winning side in the finals for the U. S. Doubles cham- 
pionships. In 1931, also, John Doeg and I won the Wimbledon and 
French championships in doubles. 

As this is written, I intend to make the old "college try" for 
the 1934 national singles title without worrying about retaining the 
doubles championship. I may get exactly nowhere, may be polished 
off early in the meet, possibly by some "unknown," but I'm going 
to shoot the works in preparation, concentration and energy in the 
1934 campaign. 

Once before I made a similar resolution. That was in 1931 
when Ellsworth Vines was performing so sensationally. I managed 
to beat him in the semi-finals at Southampton — his first major 
defeat after he skyrocketed into fame. But he got me in the finals 
of the Men's Singles at Forest Hills. That gave me Number % 
ranking when I had hoped to attain Number 1. 

Although, in the matter of years, I am now on the down side 
of what is supposed to be the peak in sports competition there may 
be one good national singles campaign left in this old frame. 

Should Lady Luck grant my ambition I hope I'll have the 
judgment to let well enough alone and devote all of my time to 
business thereafter. 

In tennis, as in other sports, it's hard to quit when one is at 
or near the top. Johnny Doeg, who won the national champion- 
ship in 1930, by beating Tilden in the semi-finals and Shields in 
the finals at Forest Hills, was an exception. After winning the title, 
he knew enough to begin playing tennis as a means of recreation 
while he was still an ace. Incidentally, he's prospering. 

As for turning professional, I can't quite see it. I'm not high- 

A Living from Tennis? 75 

hat — I don't censure the boys who've gone pro — but it just isn't 
down my alley. It would mean giving up too many things which I 

For, despite all of the foregoing talk about money, the game 
to me remains a sport — one of the fastest, hardest games the 
world knows. And when the tennis star is out there battling away 
for that intangible, fleeting thing known as victory, he isn't count- 
ing his money. He's too busy — for in major competition tennis 
is as fast and strenuous as any game on earth. If there is a Doubt- 
ing Thomas in the audience I'll be glad to take him out on the 
courts and make a believer out of him. The roar he will hear in his 
ears will be the pounding of his own heart. 

It's a game in which the runt may slay the giant, where what 
is known in the ring as moxie, in football as heart, and in tennis 
as courage, may overcome superior size and strength. 

For instance, in the men's singles at Forest Hills last summer, 
tiny Bitsy Grant of Atlanta, Georgia, suh, defeated Ellsworth 

A long time ago I tagged Grant with the nickname "Bitsy," a 
shortening of "Ittle Bitsy." For, with a wet towel in his hand, 
he won't tip the scales at more than 120 pounds and he extends 
upward about Rve feet, four inches. But in his match with Vines, 
he covered the court with the speed and agility of a terrier. He 
made brilliant, unbelievable "gets" of drives by Vines to which most 
other players would have waved goodbye. And in the end, he stag- 
gered to the net on legs which had run many miles that day to 
receive the congratulations of Vines, the victim. It was an epic in 

And this is as good a time as any to put it into the record that 
Vines has his share of courage too. In his match with Perry in the 
interzone final with the British Cup team Vines literally played 
his heart out and his legs off. When he collapsed just before the 
finish a few of the know-it-alls hinted at "grandstanding." The kid 
had simply played himself out, with a badly sprained ankle for 
extra measure. What did they want him to do — die? 

Remembering Shooting-Flying 


February, 1935 

There is a heavy norther blowing; the gulf is too rough to 
fish and there is no shooting now. When you are through 
work it is nearly dark and you can ride out on the boulevard 
by the sea and throw clay targets with a hand trap against this 
gale and they will dip and jump and rise into strange angles like 
a jacksnipe in the wind. Or you can throw them out with the gale 
behind them and they will go like a teal over the water. Or they 
can get down below the sea wall and have some one throw them 
out high over your head riding the wind, but if you puff one into 
black dust you can not pretend it was an old cock pheasant unless 
you are a better pretender than I am. The trouble is there isn't 
any thud, nor is there the line of bare trees, nor are you standing 
on a wet, leaf-strewn road, nor do you hear the beaters, nor the 
racket when a cock gets up and, as he tops the trees, you are on 
him, then ahead of him, and at the shot he turns over and there is 
that thump when he lands. Shooting driven pheasants is worth 
whatever you pay for it. 

But when you cannot shoot you can remember shooting and I 
would rather stay home, now, this afternoon and write about it 
than go out and sail clay saucers in the wind, trying to break 
them and wishing they were what they're not. 

When you have been lucky in your life you find that just about 
the time the best of the books run out (and I would rather read 
again for the first time Anna Karenina, Far Away and Long Ago, 
Buddenbrooks, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, War and 
Peace, A Sportsman's Sketches, The Brothers Karamazov, Hail 
and Farewell, Huckleberry Finn, Wmesburg, Ohio, La Heine, Mar- 
got, La Maison Tellier, Le Rouge et le Noir, La Chartreuse de 
Parme, Dubliners, Yeats's Autobiographies and a few others than 
have an assured income of a million dollars a year) you have a lot 


Remembering Shooting-Flying 77 

of damned fine things that you can remember. Then when the time 
is over in which you have done the things that you can now re- 
member, and while you are doing other things, you find that you 
can read the books again and, always, there are a few, a very few, 
good new ones. Last year there was La Condition Humaine by 
Andre Malraux. It was translated, I do not know how well, as 
Man's Fate, and sometimes it is as good as Stendhal and that is 
something no prose writer has been in France for over fifty years. 

But this is supposed to be about shooting, not about books, al- 
though some of the best shooting I remember was in Tolstoi and 
I have often wondered how the snipe fly in Russia now. When you 
have loved three things all your life, from the earliest you can 
remember ; to fish, to shoot and, later, to read ; and when, all your 
life, the necessity to write has been your master, you learn to 
remember and, when you think back you remember more fishing 
and shooting and reading than anything else and that is a pleasure. 

You can remember the first snipe you ever hit walking on 
the prairie with your father. How the jacksnipe rose with a jump 
and you hit him on the second swerve and had to wade out into a 
slough after him and brought him in wet, holding him by the bill, 
as proud as a bird dog, and you can remember all the snipe since 
in many places. You can remember the miracle it seemed when you 
hit your first pheasant when he roared up from under your feet to 
top a sweet briar thicket and fell with his wings pounding, and 
you had to wait till after dark to bring him into town because they 
were protected, and you can feel the bulk of him still inside your 
shirt with his long tail up under your armpit, walking into town 
in the dark along the dirt road that is now North Avenue where the 
gypsy wagons used to camp when there was prairie out to the Des 
Plaines river where Wallace Evans had a game farm and the big 
woods ran along the river where the Indian mounds were. 

I came by there five years ago and where I shot that pheasant 
there was a hot dog place and filling station and the north prairie, 
where we hunted snipe in the spring and skated on the sloughs when 
they froze in the winter, was all a subdivision and in the town, the 
house where I was born was gone and they had cut down the oak 
trees and built an apartment house close out against the street. So 
I was glad I went away from there as soon as I did. Because when 
you like to shoot and fish you have to move often and always 
further out. 

78 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

The first covey of partridges I ever saw, they were ruffed 
grouse but we called them partridges up there, was with my father 
and an Indian named Simon Green and we came on them dusting 
and feeding in the sun beside the grist mill on Horton's Creek in 
Michigan. They looked as big as turkeys to me and I was so ex- 
cited with the whirr of the wings that I missed both shots I had, 
while my father, shooting an old lever action Winchester pump, 
killed five out of the covey and I can remember the Indian picking 
them up and laughing. He was an old fat Indian, a great admirer 
of my father, and when I look back at that shooting I am a great 
admirer of my father too. He was a beautiful shot, one of the fastest 
I have ever seen ; but he was too nervous to be a great money shot. 

Then I remember shooting quail with him when I do not think 
I could have been more than ten years old, and he was showing me 
off, having me shoot pigeons that were flying around a barn, and 
some way I broke the hammer spring in my single barrel 20 gauge 
and the only gun down there at my uncle's place in Southern Illi- 
nois that no one was shooting, was a big old L. C. Smith double 
that weighed, probably, about nine pounds. I could not hit any- 
thing with it and it kicked me so it made my nose bleed. I was 
afraid to shoot it and I got awfully tired carrying it and my father 
had left me standing in a thickety patch of timber while he was 
working out the singles from a covey we had scattered. There was 
a red bird up in a tree and then I looked down and under the tree 
was a quail, freshly dead. I picked it up and it was still warm. My 
father had evidently hit it when the covey went up with a stray 
pellet and it had flown this far and dropped. I looked around to 
see nobody was in sight and then, laying the quail down by my 
feet, shut both my eyes and pulled the trigger on that old double 
barrel. It kicked me against the tree and when I opened it up I 
found it had doubled and fired both barrels at once and my ears 
were ringing and my nose was bleeding. But I picked the quail up, 
reloaded the gun, wiped my nose and set out to find my father. 
I was sick of not hitting any. 

"Did you get one, Ernie?" 

I held it up. 

"It's a cock," he said. "See his white throat? It's a beauty." 

But I had a lump in my stomach that felt like a baseball from 
lying to him and that night I remember crying with my head under 
the patchwork quilt after he was asleep because I had lied to him. 


Remembering Shooting-Flying 79 

If he would have waked up I would have told him, I think. But he 
was tired and sleeping heavily. I never told him. 

So I won't think any more about that but I remember now how 
I broke the spring in the 20 gauge. It was from snapping the ham- 
mer on an empty chamber practicing swinging on the pigeons after 
they wouldn't let me shoot any more. And some older boys came 
along the road when I was carrying the pigeons from the barn to 
the house and one of them said I didn't shoot those pigeons. I called 
him a liar and the smaller of the two whipped hell out of me. That 
was an unlucky trip. 

On a day as cold as this you can remember duck shooting in 
the blind, hearing their wings go whichy-chu-chu-chu in the dark 
before daylight. That is the first thing I remember of ducks; the 
whistly, silk tearing sound the fast wingbeats make; just as what 
you remember first of geese is how slow they seem to go when they 
are traveling, and yet they are moving so fast that the first one 
you ever killed was two behind the one you shot at, and all that 
night you kept waking up and remembering how he folded up and 
fell. While the woodcock is an easy bird to hit, with a soft flight 
like an owl, and if you do miss him he will probably pitch down 
and give you another shot. But what a bird to eat flambe with 
armagnac cooked in his own juice and butter, a little mustard 
added to make a sauce, with two strips of bacon and pommes 
souffle and Corton, Pommard, Beaune, or Chambertin to drink. 

Colder still. We found ptarmigan in the rocks on a high plain 
above and to the left of the glacier by the Madelener-haus in the 
Vorarlberg in a blizzard. The next day we followed a fox track all 
day on skis and saw where he had caught a ptarmigan underneath 
the snow. We never saw the fox. 

There were chamois up in that country too and black cock in 
the woods below the timber-line and big hares that you found some- 
times at night when coming home along the road. We ate them 
jugged and drank Tyroler wine. And why, today, remember misses? 

There were lots of partridges outside of Constantinople and 
we used to have them roasted and start the meal with a bowl of 
caviar, the kind you never will be able to afford again, pale grey, 
the grains as big as buck shot and a little vodka with it, and then 
the partridges, not overdone, so that when you cut them there was 
the juice, drinking Caucasus burgundy, and serving French fried 
potatoes with them and then a salad with roquefort dressing and 

80 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

another bottle of what was the number of that wine? They all had 
numbers. Sixty-one I think it was. 

And did you ever see the quick, smooth-lifting, reaching flight 
the lesser bustard has, or make a double on them, right and left, 
or shoot at flighting sand grouse coming to water early in the 
morning and see the great variety of shots they give and hear the 
cackling sound they make when flighting, a little like the noise of 
prairie chickens on the plains when they go off, fast beat of wings 
and soar, fast beat of wings and soar stiff-winged, and see a coyote 
watching you a long way out of range and see an antelope turn and 
stare and lift his head when he hears the shotgun thud? Sand 
grouse, of course, fly nothing like a prairie chicken. They have a 
cutting, swooping flight like pigeons but they make that grouse- 
like cackle, and with the lesser bustard and the teal, there is no bird 
to beat them for pan, the griddle or the oven. 

So you recall a curlew that came in along the beach one time 
in a storm when you were shooting plover, and jumping teal along 
a water course that cut a plain on a different continent, and hav- 
ing a hyena come out of the grass when you were trying to stalk 
up on a pool and see him turn and look at ten yards and let him 
have it with the shotgun in his ugly face, and standing, to your 
waist in water, whistling a flock of golden plover back, and then, 
back in the winter woods, shooting ruffed grouse along a trout 
stream where only an otter fished now, and all the places and the 
different flights of birds, jumping three mallards now, down where 
the beavers cut away the cottonwoods, and seeing the drake tower, 
white-breasted, green-headed, climbing and get above him and splash 
him in the old Clark's Fork, walking along the bank watching him 
until he floated onto a pebbly bar. 

Then there are sage hens, wild as hawks that time, the biggest 
grouse of all, getting up out of range, and out of range, until 
you came around an alfalfa stack and four whirred up one after 
the other at your feet almost and, later walking home, in your 
hunting coat they seemed to weigh a ton. 

I think they all were made to shoot because if they were not 
why did they give them that whirr of wings that moves you sud- 
denly more than any love of country? Why did they make them 
all so good to eat and why did they make the ones with silent flight 
like wood-cock, snipe, and lesser bustard, better eating even than 
the rest? 

Remembering Shooting-Flying 81 

Why does the curlew have that voice, and who thought up the 
plover's call, which takes the place of noise of wings, to give us 
that catharsis wing shooting has given to men since they stopped 
flying hawks and took to fowling pieces? I think that they were 
made to shoot and some of us were made to shoot them and if 
that is not so well, never say we did not tell you that we liked it. 

Di Maggio, tlie Man 


September, 191$ 

A s his earnings have increased, Joe DiMaggio has become 
A\ easier to live with. I think this point is worth emphasizing in 
■^ ^the story of the development of the Yankee Clipper who 
could sail equally well under either of two literary titles: Young 
Man of Manhattan or The Man from San Francisco. This transi- 
tion in temperament with the advent of prosperity has been grace- 
ful in direct proportion to his achievements. He was a little trying 
at first, but that was because he is a social introvert and was stam- 
peded by his unprecedented prominence. 

Early in his career Joe would promise to autograph things 
at a Jewish orphanage or answer questions at Fidelty Lodge of 
Masons and then run out on his bookings because he hated to talk 
in front of more than five people. His defensive personality, how- 
ever, began to expand soon after he really began to hit the ball 
in the big money league, which netted him around $200,000 in the 
last six years. 

Steadily he has expanded under the many extraneous influences 
playing upon him ever since he wore knee pants. He has acquired 
poise and maturity. He makes a nice talk in a double-breasted 
suit, after some schooling in radio and Hollywood. By this I don't 
mean to infer he has changed fundamentally and become a glad- 
hander. Out-of-state license plates drive up to "DiMaggio's 
Grotto," a truly luxurious joint at Fisherman's Wharf in San 
Francisco in hope of having him autograph a paper doily, but 
Joe is rarely around. If he is, he's hiding out in the kitchen gnaw- 
ing a T-bone with the Chinese bus boy. 

Joe allows his name to be associated with the fish place and 
some of his money is in it, but he doesn't actively take a hand in 
its management. His elder brother, Tom, does the restaurateur's 
worrying. Joe's interests in life are plain, simple and understand- 


Di Maggio, the Man 83 

able. After he is through with baseball, which to him is merely a 
good job, he wants to buy a home in Atherton, the swank penin- 
sula district south of San Francisco. As yet, Joe has never ex- 
pressed a yearning to pursue another calling when his playing days 
are done. 

Two years after he joined the Yankees, Joe committed himself 
to an obligation that now amounts to $15,000 a year in a trust 
fund. When he's forty or before that, he hopes to rusticate off 
what he has salted away. 

He had no craving to be a baseball great when he was a boy. 
Now, as formerly, Joe is blissfully indolent. But he enjoys luxury 
and will work for it six months a year, three hours a day. The fact 
that he has no plans for middle age beyond clipping coupons is a 
tipoff on his makeup. It also accounts for his tendency to hold out 
every spring. He has those stiff commitments to meet; so it's very 
important to him that the Yankees pay him $42,500 instead of 
$37,500. He wants to nudge baseball of all he can get out of it 
right away quick, for he doesn't know from day to day when his 
trick knee will fold under him or his peak earning power be other- 
wise curtailed. He reckons baseball an unstable career. Once poor, 
he has a dread of poverty. 

DiMag' has no worship of big league glamour. It's an occupa- 
tion to him, an easy way to make it quick; and if the Tulsa club 
could pay him $50,000 he'd jump the big league traces and to 
hell with Cooperstown. 

When he returns to San Francisco in the winter, Joe doesn't 
talk hot-stove league like the other hibernating athletes. Around 
the house he rarely mentions baseball. He is virtually inarticulate 
on the subject even in his family circle. You ask him who is the 
toughest pitcher he has ever faced, and he says: "Mel Harder." 
You ask him about Ruffing. "Good pitcher," he says, as he casts the 
universal blanket of "Good" over Werber at third, Williams in the 
outfield. Everybody is good. He never knocks. Toughest man to 
interview. Yet it is an admirable quality in Joe — if you know your 
baseball players — that a guy so preeminently great as he is has such 
tolerance for the performances of less gifted men. He doesn't look 
down his nose at the weakest of his colleagues in the majors. "Great 
fellow," he says. "Great player." That goes for all of them. 

At home in the winter he gets up as late as noon, and turns 
on the radio. He likes current music. 

84s Esquire's First Sports Reader 

In the off season, he has few outside interests beyond swing 
broadcasts and bass fishing — and movies. He never reads a book 
or a magazine. He has no parlor tricks. He can't recite, or play an 
instrument and he isn't glib of witty. Therefore he avoids con- 
versational groups. His education was not extensive. He matricu- 
lated at Francisco Junior High School but was not a good stu- 
dent, as Dominic was, and besides he used to play hookey too much. 

In the presence of women he is awkward. He has a beautiful 
physique, clothes it smartly, but he fears that his thin and hawk- 
like face is unattractive to women. 

He doesn't indulge in other sports in the winter. No hunting, 
no golf for him. He'll help out by rolling the first ball to open a 
bowling alley, but doesn't bowl. He fishes more than he used to, 
but only for the unsporting game of bass and deep sea. Trout 
fishing requires too much walking. 

In baseball he behaves like a robot but isn't. He thinks and is 
no dummy on the field. He gets the signals correctly, is a fine 
team man and one of our most intelligent players — on the grass. 
He studies his own technique and when he fails to hit for two or 
three days knows exactly what he is doing wrong and soon cor- 
rects it. There is no better student of form. He isn't a mechanical 
ogre. The ball players all like him, and of course admire him but 
in the dugout he is a clam. 

His refusal to crack under the strain of hitting in 56 consecu- 
tive games led some unkind observers to suggest DiMag' is a 
bovine dope without any sensitivity of nerves. 

Months later I asked him if the ordeal got him down. "What do 
you think?" he said. "In those last twenty days I went to bat with 
my palms wet. I don't show emotion because I'm not a grand- 
stander, but I feel things like everybody else." 

Of all the great players, DiMag' required the least teaching 
and correction of faults. He had the ideal style from his very first 
day in the minors and hasn't altered his technique to any con- 
siderable degree. In his first season with the Seals, a group of 
major leaguers passed through San Francisco en route to the 
Orient. "Uncle" Charlie Graham, owner of the club, remarked that 
DiMag' looked more like a big leaguer even at that early date than 
the big leaguers themselves. 

Joe is proud but not overbearing. He doesn't strut his su- 
periority in an offensive way. There is nothing of the show-off in 

Di Maggio, the Man 85 

him. In 1935 when he was under option to the Yankees, he was 
fighting Oscar Eckhardt for the batting champions of the Coast 
League. On the last day of the season less than .001 separated the 
rivals. Bill Lawrence, centerfielder for Seattle, wanted DiMaggio 
to win the title; so when Joe lifted an easy fly, Lawrence delib- 
erately stumbled and allowed the can of corn to fall for a legal hit. 

DiMaggio stormed the press box as soon as he tagged first 
base. "Whoever is the official scorer," he demanded, "I want him to 
change that to an error." 

We in San Francisco remember Joe as a young buck who 
spent his winter afternoons sitting through A and B pictures at 
the Warfield, and then hurrying across the street for four hours 
more at the RKO Cathedral. Hiking, swimming, bowling, hunting 
and other masculine outlets were not for him. Mike, the oldest 
brother, and Tom, the next, and Dom and Vince served hitches 
on the crab fishing boat from Eureka to San Diego, but Joe never 
put to sea commercially. 

The first member of the family of eight, born of Sicilians, to 
earn a livelihood at baseball was Vince. If Vince had not been re- 
called from Tucson by the Seals and paid 300 dollars a month, the 
DiMaggio baseball dynasty probably would have died aborning. 
That was more than the Libia made in two months. Thtf Libia is 
the crab smack christened by Papa in honor of the Roman war 
ship of the Garibaldi era. Mrs. Rosalia DiMaggio, the mother, still 
keeps a special taper burning before an ikon for Vince and prays 
that some day he will return to her an opera singer. With his first 
earnings from the Yankees, Joe bought his folks a 25,000 dollar 
home in the Marina district, which is semi-classy. 

Joe was the last of the family to take to sandlot ball, not ex- 
cepting the dauphin Dominic. By nature Joe was lethargic and 
nonathletic. He liked to pound the pillow late, visit the double 
features and eat meat dishes. The traditional spaghetti is his choice 
only for the newsreels. 

Joe had to be dragged into baseball by the nose in his grammar 
school period. He didn't mix well with the other youngsters and 
operated as a lone wolf — through shyness, not aloofness. Baseball 
didn't intrigue him. He didn't own a glove or a bat or spikes. But 
he began to like softball when he discovered that he could hit the 
mush ball farther than the other urchins who stood only up to his 

86 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

His graduation to hard ball was precipitated by the generosity 
of a fellow resident of the Latin quarter, a boniface named Tony 
Battaglia who operates a gas station at the corner of Columbus 
Avenue and Lombard Street. Signor Battaglia was the angel of 
the "Jolly Knights," a cracker-barrel boys' club with pass words 
and secret grips. The Jolly Knights organized a nine that played 
Saturday mornings at Funston Playground in Cow Hollow, near 
the scene of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. All the Di- 
Maggios began as infi elders, Joe at shortstop. 

Joe's introduction to professional ball was purely casual. In 
1932 Augie Galan, the shortstop of the low-ranking Seals, asked 
permission in September to join a barnstorming troupe to Hawaii. 
Vince recommended brother Joe to fill out the schedule. The first 
day he played, Joe got a triple and a double in eight times at bat 
in a double-header, but almost killed half a dozen spectators behind 
first base with wild throws. Jimmy Caveney, the manager, there- 
fore moved him out to right field. 

Joe had a hard time getting out of the Coast League. In 1934* 
he hit in 61 straight games and saved the league from ruin. None- 
theless there wasn't a buyer, and for good reason. After a night 
game he stopped off at the Hofbrau for a snack, and in getting into 
a friend's car he slipped on the running board and wrenched his 
knee. The next year he crashed into the fence going for a ball and 
reinsured his knee. Except for Bill Essick of the Yanks, he would 
have been given the go-by. Essick, however, insisted on an ex- 
amination by a doctor in Los Angeles, and then grabbed him for 
25,000 dollars and five mediocre players — a sinful bargain con- 
sidering that Joe became worth easily 500,000 dollars to the Yanks. 
If Essick had not had the courage to gamble on damaged property, 
DiMag' might have given up baseball in discouragement. 

I think that the Essick incident is significant in Joe's career. 
It was another of the many "helping hands" that have miraculously 
steered Joe to success. At first he had no interest in athletics. Then 
the example of Vince slanted him toward baseball. Frank La 
Rocca led him into the playground and softball. Tony Battaglia 
shifted him to baseball. Then Galan's chance trip to Hawaii, and 
Vince's persuasion got him his break with the Seals. Bill Essick 
went out of his way to salvage him. Lefty O'Doul, his second man- 
ager at Frisco, taught him to dress elegantly in seventy-dollar suits 
and to tip the waitress twenty cents as becomes a man of his station. 

Di Maggio, the Man 87 

Finally, the position of the Yankees, a splendid winning team which 
makes playing ball more enjoyable and endurable, helped him rise 
to the top in the money bracket, although there is no gainsaying 
Joe did as much for the Yankees as they did for him. 

When you stop to weigh Joe's phenomenal abilities for this 
game, it seems almost unbelievable that so many ministering angels 
were needed to bring him through. Yet it has happened many times 
in other fields. Geniuses always seem to be lucky in the influences 
that beam upon them by chance. A long time ago Pasteur observed : 
"Luck always favors the man who is best equipped to make use 
of it." 

I think that of this Joe DiMag' presents a most remarkable 
and complete example. If I should attempt to sum up my reaction 
to years of close and valued acquaintanceship with Joe and the 
other DiMaggio boys, I believe it would simmer down to the effect 
that the sun always shines on talent. 

How to Take Golx Lessons 


September, 191$ 

The guy who said there were 99 things to get right in your 
golf game, any one of which could throw the other 98 com- 
pletely off, was wrong. There are not 99 things to get wrong 
in your golf game. There are 100. 

Yeah, I know. You add up all the stances and the grips, all 
the counts and the rhythms, all the heads down and the follows 
through, and you get 99. But the most important factor of your 
golf game is the one that sourgrapes artist left out — it's the ability 
to take golf lessons and to take them without holding your nose, 
making a bad face, then promptly spitting them out. That ability 
is something even your best friends won't sell you, but it's some- 
thing you can pick up if you stoop to conquer. 

And if anybody can give you a tip, straight from the horse, 
I'm it. I'm the guy who taught my kids to swim the crawl, just 
from reading the books and looking at the pictures, though my own 
claim to tank fame is in a slow, exasperating breast stroke. I picked 
up fancy skating when I was practically pickin's for Pitkin, just 
by watching the pretty girls in the center of the Arena and then 
practicing alone in the Park. Tennis, a passable piano, billiards — 
all fell in line with how-to books and determined practice. But 
I'll be damned if I could ever go it with golf by the same methods. 

I've read just about every book that's ever been written on 
the game, from Vardon to date. In trying to be a self-made golfer 
I used all my very best learn-by-watching methods, avidly fol- 
lowed the pros all over the country ("just looking, thanks"), spent 
literally years on a practice tee — but no golf game worthy of the 
name came out of the pot. 

That's when I decided to abandon this Horatio Alger pose, the 
one that goes along with the I-never-took-a-lesson-in-my-life line of 


How to Take Golf Lessons 89 

chatter. That's when I decided to take a lesson from a bona fide 
pro. That oughta fixit. 

I didn't know this then, but I know it now: deciding to take 
golf lessons is only the beginning. From there in, a definite planned 
program is in order, for if you are shooting over 90 or 100 and 
you go about taking lessons like the average guy, you might as 
well rejoin the group of deluded dubs you just left — you know, 
Harry and Al and Mike with their locker-room protestations about 
"I only play for the fresh air and sunshine. Score doesn't bother 

Bobby Jones once fixed 90 as the dividing line between dubs 
and golfers. Actually, only about 15 or 20 per cent of all American 
golf -club members can break 100; only 5 per cent can shoot below 
80. Yet every high-handicap ball beater thinks of himself as a golfer 
and probably blames all but his basic form for his "off-day" scores. 
A lot of graceful growing oldsters can't understand why their 
games have fallen off as the years have piled up, but any little 
sand pile, if trapped, will tell them that it's not because they "don't 
get out as much as they used to," but because their games never 
were any good. Once upon a time maybe their agility and their 
brawn made up for eccentricities in their strokes, but today tighten- 
ing muscles, weakened coordination and less powerful push behind 
the swings show up the old faults. The oldster who still scores as 
well as he did when he was in his twenties or thirties is the fellow 
who learned a good sound form and grooved it. 

Of course, none of us wants to take golf so seriously it becomes 
a torment. Maybe a lot of us wish we could honestly claim we don't 
care about score so long as we have sun and seltzer — but the fact 
remains that we'd all be a lot happier if we could count on our golf. 
Not tournament golf, but social stuff. Just good enough to allow 
us to play with the sharpies without holding them up (and with- 
out being held up!) . . . just good enough to put us out of the 
dub class and often into the 80's . . . just good enough to make 
us welcome in any foursome. It can be done, and here's how : 

Pick as your teacher a pro in whose ability to play and to teach 
you have complete confidence. If you belong to a club naturally 
your club pro will have first call. If you're picking from strangers, 
scout around to find out something about your prospect before you 
talk to him. But once you've decided on him, put yourself com- 
pletely in his hands and stick with him. 

90 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

I've taken lessons from an army of pros, big and small — from 
the unknown 42nd assistant at the stop-and-sock to the big name 
money winners — and I know that one of the first things to conquer 
when you start out for a lesson is the tendency to think (or worse, 
to say) "that ain't the way I heard it !" Take a lesson with reser- 
vations and you're worse off than if you never took it. At least a 
part of the pro's interest is in making a living, so if he suspects 
that you're not wholeheartedly with him, that you're going to be 
like the woman convinced against her will, he'll drag out some of 
the old bromides to make you happy. Net result — nil. 

Don't expect miracles in minutes. The average guy who draws 
himself to his full height and announces in trumpet tones: "I'm 
going to take a lesson to get rid of this slice," is the bane of the 
pro's existence. He plans to take 1 (one) lesson and to return to 
his foursome that very afternoon — a new man. The pro can't afford 
to tell you, when you wheel up with that sort of a demand, that 
your request is as impossible as it is unreasonable. On looking over 
your swing his expert eye instantly detects faults — faults that have 
become fixed habits. They're correctable, but not in one three- 
dollar lesson. To correct one fault at a time, and in so doing build 
a swing more nearly correct, would take time, and lots of it. But 
he can't tell you that and still buy booties for the babies — not if 
you're in the impatient fix-me-up frame of mind. 

So? So he looks you over, offsets your slice temporarily by 
pitting some other fault against it, collects your money and sends 
you back to your game. With your stance swung around and your 
hands in a different position your slice is gone — for a while. But 
you've done nothing toward building a better game, and soon you'll 
be worse off than you were before. 

Even a pro with a conscience recognizes the value of giving 
John Q what he wants. His first tendency, though he'd be the last 
one to admit it, is to operate on the "customer is always right" 
theory. That's because he wants your business, and he doesn't want 
to buck all of human nature in one golf lesson. But if you can 
convince him that you're sincere and that you're going to junk 
your preconceived notions, he'll knock himself out for the chance 
to demonstrate his abilities. 

When you've picked your pro, lay the money on the line for 
not one lesson but a series — a group of twelve or whatever the pro 
recommends. Tell him that you're his Charlie McCarthy, that you 

How to Take Golf Lessons - 91 

won't play in competition of any sort until he says so, that you'll 
do exactly as he directs even if it means holding the club by the 
head or hitting the ball with the golf bag. And mean it when you 
say it ! 

If you've taken lessons before, tell the pro so, but whatever 
you do, don't quote your former teachers to him. Nothing irritates 
a teacher so much as to hear what Tommy Armour told you or 
what Hogan said in a magazine article. Obviously you didn't co- 
ordinate your former instruction or you wouldn't be sporting that 
terrible lunge he can plainly see. So the best attitude to take and 
to convey to your new master is this: "Those other guys' theories 
are fine, but they weren't written with my particular build and 
style in mind. What I want is a personal analysis and a personal 
success formula. I want to start all over, if that's what I should 
do. So let's go — you're the doctor." 

Probably the best way to start off on your new project is to 
play an actual round with your pro. By playing with you he can 
catalogue your game and your faults, get a line on your general 
technique and abilities. The suggestion that you play together will 
have to come from you, however, for the pro has learned by bitter 
experience that when he comes up with the idea, his pupil gets any 
one or all of a dozen wrong impressions. In the first place, a "play- 
ing lesson" is one of the most valuable methods of instruction ; it's 
worth paying a good piece of cash plus expenses to have a pro 
play with you. Nine times out of ten, though, as I learned from 
hob-nobbing with the professionals and listening to their tales of 
woe, when it's the pro who suggests playing together, the pupil 
thinks "Aha! Drinks on the house!" He assumes that the pro just 
likes his company or is hard up for playing companions, when 
actually if he were playing for pleasure the pro would much prefer 
5, 5 and 5 Nassau with his pro pals. 

Don't wait for your teacher to suggest the playing lesson, then. 
Come up with the idea yourself at your first meeting, and make it 
clear that you want to pay and play at regular rates. Talk price 
with him, but don't be a Scrooge. If he's a pro on the grounds, 
chances are he'll play with you for about what you generally lose 
in your foursome, plus his caddy fees. Of course if he's not at your 
club and playing wiih you will take his whole day, the tariff will 
increase proportionately. 

When you get out on the course with your teacher, remember 

92 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

you can't fool him at his own game. If you shoot over your head 
he'll know how much luck entered in, and if you're nervous and 
getting the bad breaks he'll know that, too. So don't grouse and 
make playing unpleasant. 

In that first playing lesson probably your pro won't do much 
monkeying with your form. He may not even appear to be watch- 
ing you. But he'll get a direct line on how much improvement you 
can be expected to show in that season, and exactly how much he 
can do for you in the twelve or so lessons you've contracted for — if 
you'll let him. But if you insist on being a big shot and tell him 
you know exactly why you're "off your game," he'll humor you. 
Why not, at those prices? 

In a playing lesson, any pro can cut strokes from your game 
without changing you much, particularly if you're an over-100 
player, simply by showing you how better to manage the game 
you do play. Funny thing about golf— everyone who has ever held 
a club in his hand watches Jimmy Thomson drive, sees the ball go a 
mile and says to himself, "Cheez, I can do that !" When he goes out 
to the ball park and sees Di Mag hit the ball over the fence he 
knows he himself couldn't hit the ball that far, even against easy 
pitching. When he marvels at the precision passes of Sammy 
Baugh or Cecil Isbell he doesn't tell himself that he could do it if 
he practiced a little. A dub never seems to believe that he could 
play tennis like Biggs or billiards like Hoppe, yet as soon as he 
gets out on a golf course he expects to be able to drive like Thom- 
son, use his irons like Armour, putt like Horton Smith and score 
like an Open medalist. That mental quirk is responsible for at least 
15 strokes on the score of a dyed-in-the-wool dub, because, though 
his own game doesn't warrant it, he plans his shots as if he could 
execute them better than a Bobby Jones. A pro can show him why 
it's better in the long run to chip out of the woods onto the fairway 
just opposite, rather than aim at the flag and try to slam out 
through the trees from a bad lie. Your teacher will show you how 
playing safe — on the green, in the traps, in all kinds of trouble — 
can make a terrific difference in your score. When he thinks you're 
capable of absorbing it, he'll show you how to roll three shots into 

In spite of all you've heard and read about how the short game 
wins the tournaments and the money, probably your secret desire 
is for distance. The first thing you want to learn is how to sock 

How to Take Golf Lessons 93 

out those woods. Keep it to yourself, if it is, because your pro will 
soon show you that though iron shots are the least glamorous 
they're the scorers. If his system includes starting you off with a 
putter and taking the woods last as one leading pro recommends, 
give him the go-signal. The precision you'll learn while practicing 
your iron shots will help you when you come to the drives . . . 
and you'll be surprised at the tricks of the trade you can pick up 
in a short time of instruction on your approaches : how to stop the 
ball, how to run it, how to make it land to the right or to the left. 

"You have to teach yourself" is a golf slogan that has done 
more harm than good to a lot of earnest duffers. The basic prin- 
ciple — that you have to take your mind and your will along with 
you when you take a lesson — is sound enough, but that saying 
has fostered a bad practice about practicing. After one of your 
first few lessons you'll feel as if you have the Secret Formula, all 
tied up in a neat package, and wham ! you'll spend the next three 
afternoons out on the practice tee all alone, trying to groove it. 
You'll get in the groove all right, and your pro will probably have 
to spend your whole next lesson trying to get you out of it. Prac- 
tice only under supervision, particularly at first, and you'll stunt 
the growth of a lot of new faults. 

What the pro wants you to learn is the "feel" of the proper 
swing. You don't have to know the exact moment when your wrists 
should turn over, be able to give a ten-minute speech about your 
weight-change, or even have the vaguest idea of how you look 
at the top of your swing. The over-ambitious attempt to analyze 
and understand every tiny motion of the golf swing is deadly to the 
dub. Probably if you ate with an eye to your fork-form, studying 
every gesture and turn of the wrist involved in feeding your face, 
you'd wind up sticking the fork in your ear. And eating is a simple, 
natural, functional motion, too — nothing like the complicated and 
sometimes seemingly distorted movements involved in a correct 
golf swing! 

That's why studying pictures of your own swing is a foolish 
and confusing practice, particularly if you try to analyze them 
without a licensed interpreter. And that's why involved discussions 
about theory make a poor way to spend your lesson hour. Keep 
your mouth shut when you're taking a lesson. Your pro will have 
his pet ways of putting his ideas across — they may even seem to 
contradict openly what you've read and what other players have 

94 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

said — but they're designed only to get you on the right track. 
Don't pick the words apart, just get the idea and, while your 
teacher is watching, put that idea to work by trial and error. If 
your lessons "take," you won't have to concentrate on the 99 points 
of your golf swing when you get out on the course — you'll just 
swing ! 

The rule book on how to take golf lessons ought to include at 
least two more things: first, never take a kibitzer along with you 
when you go to take your lessons, and second, don't talk about 
taking lessons! 

A third person in a spectator role at your lesson may not seem 
to distract you, but he's bound to take away from your relaxation 
and your concentration, and likely to make you "press" as much as 
if you were actually playing. Then too, though he or she may 
be meek in the presence of the pro, the post-mortem can be dis- 
astrous to your confidence in the progress you're making. 

And if you've ever tried to quit smoking or stick to a diet, you 
know the value of that second rule. Talking about your "great 
sacrifice" as to food or smoking is bound to keep you conscious of 
what you're missing and give you a martyr complex, rather than 
strengthen your determination as you think at the time. Talking 
about your golf lessons, similarly, is bound to make you self-con- 
scious of your coming debut as a new man on the golf course, get 
you to expecting quick results and, worst of all, make you put into 
words the things that you're supposed to learn by doing. 

If you want to add an extra incentive for your teacher and in- 
sure his fullest co-operation, the bonus idea is a pretty good one. 
The Chicago lawyer who promised his pro $1,000 if he could get 
him to breaking 80 in a year went overboard on the bonus plan, but 
it paid dividends. More within the regular fellow's reach is this: 
tell your pro you're going to buy a new set of clubs from him when 
you've knocked your handicap down 5 points, or broken 100 or 
90, or whatever your individual aim. It's hard to believe, but 
members of some of the swankiest clubs brag to their own pros 
about their purchasing prowess proudly display bargain base- 
ment golf clubs similar to those sold in their own caddy shops, and 
expect the pros to appraise and praise. Those guys are masters of 
How to Gain the III Will of Your Pro While Saving a Few Dollars. 
Because that's such a common happening, and especially because 
it's come to be a featured fret in private pro post-mortems, your 

How to Take Golf Lessons 95 

seemingly minor pledge to buy clubs from the home team will go 
a long way in the good will department. 

Take it from your great-grandpar, half the battle in taking 
golf lessons is adopting the right attitude and, in so doing, de- 
veloping the proper attitude and interest in your pro. 

Well, there you are — all cozy and chummy with your pro, with 
your mind all made up to stop spoiling your summers with your 
lousy golf. Now that FDR has given Judge Landis the nod on 
baseball, you're convinced that we can return the Japs call of 
December 7 without abolishing our recreations, and you're going 
out after new vim and vigor on the golf course. You remember 
Jones' classic, "If golf is worth playing, it's worth playing right." 
You're ready to lay out a little money, a lot of time and some 
studied concentration to make a boogie out of a bogey. It can be 
fun as well as work if you go at it right — and with these rules in 
mind you're a cinch. The rest is easy. All you have to do is learn 
to play golf. Simple game, really. Oh, sure. 

Learning Good Golt by Sense 

March, 19 iS 

I can harness your golf swing so you'll be converted from a 
high-handicap hacker into a sensationally good swinger. The 
transformation will be made easily within a few weeks. 

"Sensation-ally good" is the right term to apply to the new 
and correct swing you'll have. Your swing will be founded on sen- 

A sensation, according to the dictionary, is "an impression 
made upon the mind through the medium of one of the organs of 
sense; feeling produced by external objects, or by some change 
in the internal state of the body." 

In this case of golf instruction the "organs of sense" involved 
are those of feel. 

You can learn good golf if you use the sense of feel. 

The soundness of the principle of golf instruction in my method 
has been demonstrated repeatedly by the caddies who've become 
great players. They don't learn by first mastering the mechanics 
of the game. They begin by imitating some good player and sub- 
consciously becoming clearly aware of the difference between the 
feeling that accompanies a good shot and the awkward feeling of 
a shot incorrectly made. 

The chances are that you now don't recognize the sensation of 
a good swing. 

Not knowing the difference between the feeling you should ex- 
perience when your muscles, bones and nerves have collaborated in 
producing a good shot and the feeling you should have when you 
make shots with any one of your numerous incorrect swings, you 
are without a foundation for your game. 

If you don't know golf as a game of feeling, you are like a 
deaf man trying to play piano by ear. Then you, and the pro 
teaching you, are up against the extremely difficult proposition of 


Learning Good Golf by Sense 97 

trying to get words to describe sensations that are felt when a 
correct swing is made. 

The pupil's attitude is the major factor that determines 
whether golf instruction is or isn't going to be effective. In getting 
the pupil conditioned to receive the knowledge of shot-making the 
great handicap to be overcome is that of pronounced tensity. When 
pros talk together about their instruction problems, almost in- 
variably they refer to the first and most important step in teaching 
as that of getting the pupil to relax. 

Why is this relaxation so vital? It has a lot to do with the basic 
principle of the method I'll give you for learning good golf. 

Why do you grit your teeth, hunch your shoulders, get tense 
and taut when you expect pain? The reason is that you thus hope 
to deaden your sensibility to the feeling of pain. When you're re- 
laxed you believe that you'll feel too acutely. Delicacy of feeling is 
what we want in golf ; hence the high valuation pros place on relax- 

Perhaps you have tried to improve your swing by paying con- 
scious attention to several different elements in the swing, such as 
pivoting by a sliding turn of the hips, keeping the left arm straight, 
having your left shoulder touch your chin at the top of your 
backswing, and uncocking the wrists when your club gets down 
near the ball. 

Science has proved that the action of the golf swing occurs too 
swiftly for you to apply consciously all these tips you have in mind. 

The swing pattern is a complete thing. Professor John Ander- 
son of the University of Minnesota, a noted authority on motor 
skills, impressed that on pros at a professional golfers' clinic at the 
University of Minnesota two years ago, and again at the 1941 
Professional Golfers Association national meeting in Chicago. Some 
pros were inclined to debate with Professor Anderson, but I'll say 
from my own studied experience that I can tell by the feeling of 
the swing whether or not a shot I have hit is good or bad, but I 
can't put my finger on what I have done wrong. 

Often you may have read that you should have a picture of 
the swing in your mind. That doesn't mean a thing to most golfers, 
for how they look and how they think they look during the swing 
are two different pictures. You frequently see efforts made to apply 
this advice when you see high handicap players hold a pose after 
the completion of their swings. They think they are imitating some 

98 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

star golfer, whereas they generally reach this posed position by 
means of some jerky, unnatural movements forced after their 
swings actually have been completed. 

In your mind should be, rather than a picture, the sensation 
that is associated with a properly made swing. Maybe it will be 
impossible for you to recognize definitely more than one definite 
association of the action with a certain set of muscles. Don't worry 
about that. 

Chick Evans says that one of the earliest items of golf instruc- 
tion he received — and about the only one that has stood the test of 
years — is that he ought to feel a pulling of the muscles back of his 
left shoulder when his downswing is getting under way. Maybe 
some other one item of muscular consciousness will register with 
you when you are making a good swing. 

Now, after this explanation of the basic principle of my method, 
I think you'll understand that the fundamental problem in teach- 
ing — and in getting the pupil to learn — good golf is the problem 
of making the pupil's muscles aware of what they should do. 

And this is how the muscles can be trained to perform properly 
in making the sort of a golf swing one should have: 

My method, amazingly effective with pupils I have super- 
vised, is simply a method of buckling two belts; one around the 
pupil's arms just above the elbows, and the other around the 
pupil's legs just above the knees. 

When the belt is looped around the elbows the arms should 
be straight — but not stiff — from the shoulders to the grip of the 
club. Just to make sure that the pupil has the correct grip, which 
is really a simple, natural and smooth working union between the 
player and the club, I'll check into that later, but now we'll keep 
to the arms. 

Buckle the belt so the loop keeps the arms comfortably to- 
gether. It would be better to have a device that would keep the belt 
from sliding out off the arms onto the club as the swing develops 
centrifugal force, and I'll probably get to that someday, but for 
the present the belt will do. 

Take a natural stance, with the toes pointed outward slightly 
and the feet just a bit farther apart than the width of one's hips; 
then have the belt buckled just above the knees. 

Bend your knees slightly, so they're loosened and you're sort 

Learning Good Golf by Sense 99 

of sitting down or crouching. This does away with any tendency 
toward tensity. It unlocks your knees. 

Now swing the club. You don't have to think of a thing, except 
not starting the swing by lifting the club with your hands. Swing 
the club so it'll go as far back as your body will twist, with the ball 
of your left foot being kept in firm contact with the ground. 

After not many trials your arms, body and hands will be 
smoothly coordinated. You can hit balls with these belts around 
your arms and legs. Don't try to hit them hard. You'll be surprised 
how far they'll go when they're hit squarely. 

Now you know how your muscles should feel when you're 
making a correct golf swing. 

Without being told "don't" you are avoiding the two most com- 
mon errors of the high-handicap golfer. These are the faults of 
spreading the elbows and of dipping the left knee toward the 
ground instead of moving it in toward the right knee. 

You now know the feeling of firm balance essential to good golf. 
With that belt holding your knees in proper position you have to 
swing in good balance or come close to falling forward or back- 
ward, according to the error you have made. 

One thing that will surprise you about the job done by the belt 
above the elbows is that the wrist joints will perform properly in 
hinging — so the club gets far back over the shoulders — straighten 
out without conscious effort as the clubhead comes into the ball, and 
complete their function in an extended, high follow-through. 

That belt around the elbows will educate the muscles to the 
feeling that they should have when the ball is being smartly 
smacked. Generally, due to the collapse of the left elbow and the 
failure to turn the body freely and fully, the high-handicap golfer 
doesn't get the club far enough back to hit the ball nearly so far 
as he is capable of hitting it. 

An illustration of what happens when a ball is hit to travel and 
when it is merely given a sloppy jolt off the tee can be provided by 
a rubber band. When the band isn't extended it won't shoot a paper 
clip very far, but when it is stretched out so there is tension to 
it, it will snap back to a relaxed position with speed and stored-up 
power that shoot the clip fast and far. The muscles, when 
they're working in the manner directed by the two-belt arrange- 
ment, work through the club shaft and head to the ball in a similar 

100 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

But note — and it's very important to get this clear — there's a 
difference between tension and tensity in your golf swing. When 
there is tension properly worked up so there is a sensation of being 
crouched or coiled to spring, you have tension that, when released 
over the wide arc of the swing which this method makes easy for 
the average golfer, generates speed that means distance to the shot. 
Tensity is a stiff, joint-locked feeling that completely prevents full 
application of force to the ball. 

Tension is the winding-up for the swing. When your elbows 
and knees move in the proper paths you get a spring-like coiling 
that is released through the left arm, the left shoulder and back, 
and through the left leg when you make your swing at the ball. 

With this elbow and knee harness, your muscles find it almost 
impossible to get conditioned to any sensation but that of the cor- 
rect pivot, arm, and wrist action of a complete swing. You don't 
have to try deliberately to remember to pause when you are at the 
top of the swing. Your muscles are directed by these belts to per- 
form until the body and arms reach the top of the backswing — 
the moment of ultimate tension, or the limit of the rubberband 
stretch — and a change of direction must take place. 

When the backswing is correctly made by this coordinated 
functioning of the key joints of the swing, there will be no trouble 
about getting to and through the ball. The ineffective slug at the 
ball and the failure to keep the club moving through the ball are 
the result of earlier movements improperly made. 

It will be noticed quickly that any tendency to lunge at the ball 
or to sway away from it in the backswing are eliminated by the 
forced action of the knees compelled by the clasped belt. The player 
must swing around on his hips and keep his feet in solid contact 
with the ground. There need be no straining to apply what one 
so often hears and reads about the weight being mainly on the right 
foot in the backswing, and on the left foot in swinging at and 
through the ball. By means of the belt, the player's muscles and 
his balancing organization work subconsciously in keeping the 
player from tottering. 

It is obvious that these elbow and knee belts assure a compact 
swing. By a compact swing is meant merely a swing in which all 
elements work with a minimum of waste motion. It's the waste mo- 
tion that accounts for the high-handicap player's inconsistency and 
his being more fatigued by his round of 90 to 115 than the expert 

Learning Good Golf by Sense 101 

is by his round below par. Every time you make an unnecessary 
motion you are straining needlessly. 

With the belts around your elbows and knees your muscles get 
acquainted with the feeling of making your legs and your arms, 
which are in effect lengthened by the clubshaft, parts of a tripod. 
Your muscles get the sensation of firmly setting you to hit the ball 
with, freedom, speed, force and smoothness. 

Now about the grip. To get the right grip, bring your hands 
to the club grip with the palms squarely facing each other. Move 
the right hand down the grip. This automatically brings the right 
shoulder down a bit. Now the club, if its sole is flat on the ground 
as it should be, is diagonally across your left hand, with the left 
forefinger's middle section at the bottom of the grip and the butt 
of the left hand coming across the top of the club. The left thumb 
is a bit to the right side of the grip. That's as the left hand grip 
should be. 

Now put the right little finger over the left forefinger, get your 
left thumb in the hollow of your right hand, put your right thumb 
on the side of your right forefinger, and you have the grip that 
keeps the club in firm but not tense control, and supplies the right 
sort of union between the player and the club. The hands should 
be close together with a feeling that when they work they work as 
a unit. 

With those belts around your elbows and knees and the club 
joined up as a close-connected unit of the swinging machinery, you 
can let your muscles teach themselves how they should feel when 
they are doing their best work at golf. 

When your muscles learn that lesson they won't be interfered 
with by your trying to think of various, confusing, disconnected 
actions. You can concentrate on getting the ball into the hole. 

It took me years of playing and practice until I finally worked 
out the muscle memory system that keeps swing details from be- 
coming a conscious worry to the player and allows them to be 
mainly the habit of the muscles. In this way the muscles are ac- 
quainted with what their business is in the golf swing and get into 
the habit of performing their routine duties. 

You can get rhythm in your swing only when the muscles have 
been trained to feel their proper performance. 

Rhythm is what the higher-handicap player hasn't got. He 
doesn't know how to begin getting it because he hasn't a clear idea 

102 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

of how he should feel when he comes up to swing, hence he is tense 
— tightened up — and thinks of many different kinds of swings, 
and hazards. 

From the time I take the club from the caddie I am in rhythm. 
I have decided what kind of club is required for the shot and vis- 
ualize the flight of the ball as I get the club from the caddie. I 
am feeling that club instead of only having it in my hand as a 
dead weight. The clubhead is felt as a weight put at the end of a 
shaft for the purpose of connecting squarely with the ball. The 
club is being felt not as so much steel, leather, and in some cases, 
wood, but as an instrument for doing a delicate but powerful job. 

Instinctively, because of this basing of my game on feeling, I 
take the grip for the required shot as a matter of habit rather than 
as an additional job of conscious performance. My grip is always 
at the end of the driver, and at the end of the other clubs for shots 
of the full length of whatever clubs I've selected. The grip is lower 
down on the leather for the punch shots. 

The club is waggled not merely as a habit but as a starting 
impulse to the series of feelings that should continue without my 
conscious effort to excite them, throughout the swing. Therefore, I 
can think of where I want that ball to go, and the feeling of the 
club, of the leg, body, arm and wrist action follows as any acquired 
habit. Sometimes there are mysterious little things that prevent 
the orderly performance of these muscle habits. With me, playing 
golf as a serious business against highly competent competitors, 
these little disorders are serious. But if you'll be content to get 
yourself on greens so you have a good chance of scoring close to 
par, these variations from the correct muscular habits and feeling 
can generally be eliminated by a return to the belt practice that 
made you a good golfer. 

You may have noticed that I haven't told you anything about 
keeping the head down. With your body and arms feeling the sensa- 
tion of a properly made swing you won't be inclined to move your 
head. It will stay steady where it belongs at the apex of the tripod 
I've mentioned. 

Possibly you also have noticed that I haven't told you anything 
about the right elbow being held comfortably close to the body and 
kept down instead of getting into the curious position in which it 
frequently is placed by the player who does not get power or direc- 
tion into his shots. The belt around the elbows makes certain that 

Learning Good Golf by Sense 103 

the right elbow will keep in the positions it should be in at various 
stages of the swing. You'll feel the plain sign of its departure from 
the correct position should you return to original sin when you 
make some bad shots minus the elbow belt. 

Other points that are common "don'ts" in printed golf instruc- 
tion haven't been mentioned here for the simple reason that the 
belts automatically adjust movements to the proper groove. 

You can try this belt method indoors without a ball until your 
muscles develop the right habit and the feeling of a good swing, 
or you can try it outdoors with a ball after you've had a few ses- 
sions to overcome the early feeling of awkwardness that's bound to 
be felt when you're weeding out your bad habits and teaching your 
muscles how they should feel. 

The two-belts system will work for you. It's never missed on the 
hundreds of cases in which it has been employed. 

Use it until your nerves become keen to the feel of your muscles 
and joints working as they should in swinging a golf club. It won't 
take so very long, but you should keep at it a little while every 
day until the habit of swinging by good feeling is adapted. 

Then, all you'll have to do to scorch the scorecard is learn to 
putt well enough to hole a few of the long ones now and then, 
and seldom miss the short ones. 

How to Be a Successful Dufler 


December, 1937, 

Do you hold your nose when you dive off the springboard? 
Do you take six shots and five minutes to get out of a 
sand trap?- 

Do you get more blisters than aces when playing tennis? 

In brief, are you a duffer at sports? 

The chances are that you are a duffer, because of the millions of 
Americans who play at sports each year only the scantiest fraction 
are champions or anything like it. The overwhelming majority are 
double-dipped, hand-carved duffers — men and women to the awk- 
ward manner born. 

I am a member of this tremendous duffer family, whose broth- 
ers and sisters you find everywhere — untangling their snarled fish- 
ing lines from trees, playing shots from rough so deep and for- 
bidding that Frank Buck would think twice before invading it, 
getting bumped on their noggins by booms and spars, double- 
faulting and foot-faulting, and executing belly-whopping swan 
dives from the edges of pools. A true duffer always will be a duffer. 

Lessons from professionals do him little good. He will carry 
that loop in his backswing, that flyswatter tennis service, to his 
grave. The library shelves of the nation are overrun with learned 
books on how to become a champion by improving your form. The 
real duffer has no form and couldn't improve it if he did. 

As for becoming a champion you can't fool us. Champions are 
harder to make than trees. To begin with, they must have great 
natural ability and an early start. Your champion horseshoe 
pitcher probably started pitching pony shoes when he still wore 
three-cornered pants, and your golf champion undoubtedly could 
put backspin on his milk bottle. Anyone who is old enough to read 
is too old to start becoming a champion. 

During the years I have been a member of the duffer family 


How to Be a Successful Duffer 105 

my only real shame has been in front of outsiders. We members of 
the family understand one another, but occasionally we have to 
compete with non-duffers, men and women who are not bound to- 
gether by the common lack of ability to do things well, and it's em- 
barrassing. They make it known to us that they wonder why we 
struggle on. 

As one who has long been inefficient at many sports I have felt 
the need for a manual or primer which would explain to the duffer 
how he could appear to be much better at games than he really is. 
So, during the eight years in which I have been a sports writer, 
I have been careful to observe and listen to the explanations that 
champions make when they slip temporarily into the duffer class 
and top drives, flub easy lobs, land sideways on a jackknife dive, 
and ride the best horse in the race and finish last. For the Sarazens, 
the Budges, the Degeners and the Kurtsingers make the same 
mistakes that you and I do — only not so often. That's why they are 
champions and you and I are dubs. 

There's another difference, too. When we duffers flop, we say 
"oh, hell." When champions flop, they are ready with a profound 
explanation that may involve criticism of wind, weather, the tides, 
equipment, spectator noises, playing conditions, the referee, or the 
piece of chocolate cake they ate the night before. They make these 
explanations in highly technical terms and in my scholarly way I 
have been writing them down, often not knowing what they mean. 

The result is a long-needed manual and guidebook on how 
duffers may make themselves look good when actually they are 
terrible. As soon as the sports season opened this spring, I tried 
it out at a week-end party. My theories worked beautifully. Not 
one of my fellow guests realized I was a duffer. When I packed 
up on Monday 1 had almost convinced myself that I was good. 

Arriving late on a hot afternoon my host told me to get into 
a bathing suit and join everybody at the swimming pool. I would 
have preferred to have had him ask me to put on a pair of overalls 
and clean up the basement. My equipment for swimming consisted 
of a laborious side stroke and a fear of any water more than five 
feet deep. I reached the pool to find it alive with expert swimmers 
who were doing new-fangled crawls and diving from platforms so 
high that it didn't seem right not to have firemen with nets below. 
My host introduced me around to the human sea lions who called 
for me to "come on in!" 

106 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

I thought about that side stroke which Aunt Bessie had taught 
me when I was eight years old. She thought I was very graceful 
but something told me that these strangers would not see eye to 
eye with Aunt Bessie. Then I remembered the study I had made 
on how to look good at sports although a duffer. Standing there 
on the edge of the pool I thought back on my swimming data and 
decided to put it to a test. 

I recalled that several years ago in Florida several of Amer- 
ica's finest men and women swimmers — Adolph Kiefer, Katherine 
Bawls, Georgia Coleman, and Balph Flanagan — had amused a 
crowd by violating everything they knew about swimming and 

"Remember the old dog paddle?" I shouted. "Watch me do it!" 

Every eye was upon me as I jumped in with a huge splash and 
started dog-paddling to the other side of the pool. 

My progress was greeted with roars of genuine laughter. En- 
couraged (and out of wind) I said: 

"Remember this one?" 

Then I went into Aunt Bessie's side stroke and again everybody 
laughed. Carried away by my success I suddenly found myself 
slowly sinking in the middle of the pool. I managed to cry : 

"Come on, fellows ! Pretend to save me !" 

Then I went down for the second time. Fortunately, the expert 
swimmers were so intrigued by this that they joined in the sport 
and made what they thought was a mock rescue. They howled with 
laughter when I allowed them to pull me out of the pool and apply 
first aid. 

Later, when I had revived, I thought I had better go off the 
diving board to impress them further with my athletic prowess. I 
was the center of attention as I stepped out on the board that was 
quivering almost as much as I. But again my duffers' manual 
came to my aid. At the Olympic games in Berlin last summer I 
used to spend mornings watching the divers of all nations practice. 
I had picked up much technical knowledge concerning the sport. I 
knew about "carriage," I realized the importance of the "approach 
to the board." I had seen Dick Degener, Olympic champion, always 
precede his take-off by a graceful rise to his tiptoes, a statuesque 
arching of his body. I tiptoed and arched to the best of my ability. 

Then, just when they expected me to go into a beautiful swan 
dive, I laughed and said : 

How to Be a Successful Duffer 107 

"Now for the old frog jump!" 

Grabbing my nose, I jumped. My feet spread wide, and my free 
arm cut circles in the air. It was the only dive I knew. I will always 
remember it because my stomach is still sore. 

My success was unbelievable. The men and women, who had 
been sailing off the board in lovely and intricate dives a few mo- 
ments before, began trying my frog dive. They turned to me for 
advice and I actually found myself an instructor, showing them 
how to do it. 

The next day I played tennis. During the ride to the courts I 
was positively cocky. I sized up my doubles partner and my op- 
ponents and decided they were much better than duffers and far 
out of my class. So I knew that I must waste no time in laying 
a foundation that would make them believe at the end of the match 
that I was really a fine tennis player, no matter what happened. 

I recalled that Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry, Donald Budge, 
Bill Tilden — in fact, all the good tennis players I knew — never 
called a racquet a racquet. They always called it a "bat." 

"Darn it," I said, picking up my racquet and shaking it, "I 
packed in a hurry yesterday and brought along the wrong bat." 

My companions looked at me with new interest in their eyes. I 
had scored and I pressed my advantage. 

"The weight in this bat," I said, "is too much in the head. I like 
a bat with balance nearer the throat. Nothing bothers you so much 
on half volleys as an unbalanced bat." 

My companions handed me their racquets and asked my opinion 
on the balance. I held them over my head at arm's length and 
swung them delicately. I remembered well seeing Jean Borotra do 
that at Germantown one day. 

"Fine bats," I finally said judiciously. "I wish mine had as neat 
a balance." 

Too, too soon we arrived at the courts. My companions began 
taking off their sweaters but I walked directly to the court and 
pressed my thumbs against the surface. Then, shaking my head in 
despair, I called a conference at the net. 

"Terribly soft court, isn't it?" I said. "Not much bounce today. 
Pins us down almost entirely to chopping, doesn't it?" 

The only reason I had decided the court was soft was that a 
feeble chop — a lamb chop, so to speak — was my lone tennis stroke. 
Then, too, I had seen Helen Jacobs win more than one national 

108 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

championship by using her chop stroke on a soft court. Well, I 
chopped and chopped and chopped. We lost the first set, 1-6, but 
my reputation did not suffer. Throughout the set I was careful 
to yell "well hit !" or "too good !" every time I missed a simple shot. 
These cries of flattery blinded my opponents to my own shortcom- 
ings. They believed they were playing super tennis and that I was 
merely the unfortunate victim of their blazing speed and control. 

When it came my time to serve, however, I was strictly on my 
own. For a moment I was at a loss for an explanation of the weak, 
pitty-pat, girl undergraduate, service of mine. Then I remembered 
Henri Cochet, the little Frenchman who once dominated all the 
courts of the world, not with his speed, but with uncanny place- 
ment of shots. 

"Placement of service is the thing, eh partner?" I cried, and 
then put a powder puff across the net, ducking to escape the terrific 
smash that came back at my head. 

"Peach ! Peach !" I screamed, and then frowned at my racquet. 

"I'm going to have to string my own bats after this," I said. 
"This gut is loose as spaghetti." 

Well, we lost three sets in a row, 1-6, 3-6, and 0-6. 

Under the shower I said to my partner: 

"Odd, isn't it, how some players can't get their games together 
in doubles? Tilden and Helen Wills Moody used to have the same 
trouble we had today. Individually they were unbeatable ; together 
they never could click. It was the same with us today." 

"Never thought of that," my partner answered, "but it cer- 
tainly sounds logical. Hope we can team up again some time." 

The next day we were scheduled to play golf, and just before 
going to bed I looked out the window to see if there were any hope 
of a saving rain for me. All of the stars were out, and winking 
evilly at me. I stayed awake most of the night preparing a pro- 
fessional alibi for every mistake I could possibly make. First, my 
hook, which is chronic. I knew that of the 105 or so strokes I would 
need to get around at least 90 would be hooked. My two-foot putts 
are fairly straight. I remembered Bobby Jones once saying that a 
hooked ball got tremendous roll because of top-spin or something*. 
I knew I could explain my inability to hit a decent brassie shot with 
the same reason that Tommy Armour once used in my hearing. 

"The lies are too close for a brassie shot," he said. 

I have often wondered what he meant. 

How to Be a Successful Duffer 109 

I began my personal work on my opponent while we still were 
in the locker room dressing for the match. 

"How long is the course?" I asked quite casually. 

"Sixty-seven hundred yards," he answered. 
"From front or back tees?" I quickly asked, remembering that 
I had heard Lawson Little make • the same inquiry at the recent 
national open in Detroit. 

"I don't know," my opponent replied. 

"But it makes a great deal of difference," I said, and on the 
way out to the first tee I told him all about the yardage at St. An- 
drews, the Royal St. George at Sandwich, and Carnoustie, all of 
which I hope to play some day. 

He seemed impressed, but I was taking no chances. I plucked a 
handful of grass from the first tee, tossed it into the air, and studied 
it with a frown on my face as it drifted down. 

"Hmmmmmmm, cross wind. And a nasty one, too," I said. "A 
man would be a fool not to play a hook here." 

He licked his finger and held it up as a test for the wind. 

"You're right," he said, "but I can't control my hooks." 

I leaped at him like a tiger. For ten minutes I severely cross- 
examined him on his game. I questioned him minutely on the fol- 
lowing points: Did he use the overlapping or interlocking grip? 
Was he an open or a closed stance player? Did he have a tendency 
to shut the face of his club ? Did he cock his wrists at the top of his 
backswing? Did he believe that the left hand was everything? How 
was his pivot? 

For ten minutes he knocked the tops off dandelions with a swing 
that I would have sold my soul to Mephistopheles to have been 
able to equal. Between narrowed eyes I watched him. I circled him. 
I adjusted his arms. Ordered him to keep his head down. Finally, 
I delivered my verdict : 

"Old man, try a wee bit more right hand on top of the shaft." 

I said that I would be glad to demonstrate what I meant by 
hooking every shot. 

He argued against this, saying it would spoil my score, but I 
merely smiled and said: 

"No trouble at all. We'll just call all bets off. What's another 
round of golf to me?" 

I never have seen a more appreciative man. He won the first, 
second, and third holes with pars. On the fourth hole, which is a 

110 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

decided dog-leg to the right, I hooked into woods on the left of the 
fairway, hooked out of them, and then hooked back in again. I 
finally hooked onto the green in eight, and hooked three short putts 
for an eleven. 

"Get the idea?" I asked him. 

"Yeah," he answered, "that right hand is what does it, all 

At the fifteenth green (I was ten down and sliding fast) he hit 
one of his few bad shots of the day. I walked slowly and solemnly 
across the fairway, put my arm around his shoulder in a com- 
radely fashion, and said: 

"Tck ! Tck ! Mustn't let your right shoulder collapse like that, 
old man." 

"Thanks," he said. "I'll watch it from now on." 

I returned, addressed my ball smartly, and hooked sharply into 
the rough on the left of the green. If my opponent's shoulder had 
collapsed, both of mine fell clear to my waist. But I covered up 
quickly by turning to my caddy and barking: 

"You overclubbed me again, boy!" 

Approaching the eighteenth green I was twelve down and I 
knew that my only hope was to talk fast. My drive was fairly good 
with a slight hook on the end of it but I dug a six-inch divot be- 
hind my approach shot. 

"Must be fresh sod on this fairway," I said, speaking loud 
enough to be sure my opponent heard me. 

My ball rolled into a trap on the right of the green. I took out 
a niblick, tested it, frowned and put it back in the bag. 

"Boy, my dynamiter," I said, and my caddy handed it to me 
with the air of one who has suffered too much already. I was on 
the green in four more shots and knew that I had to make my 
final face-saving speech of the day. I had it ready because I had 
heard pros — Johnny Revolta, Harry Cooper, Horton Smith and 
Denny Shute — put the blast on courses on which they had unfor- 
tunate scores. For good measure, I threw in some things I had 
remembered from an interview with Donald Ross, the great golf 

"The trap is furrowed," I said, "and the pin on this green is 
unfairly placed. Mighty coarsegrained sand in your bunkers here. 
And how about these greens, they don't get enough shade, do they, 
and somebody planted the wrong bent on this one. Your fairways 

How to Be a Successful Duffer 111 

are baked but maybe you'll get some rain soon. Go ahead and putt, 
you're away." 

That night I was away on the first train. They were planning 
water polo for the morrow. 

Tne Time or Ruby Robert 


February, 19^0 

I saw Bob Fitzsimmons a good many times, both in action, 
and when he was ambling on the streets of Chicago, some- 
times leading his pet lion. His hair was reddish, but he wasn't 
so very ruby after all, and as for freckles, though he was cartooned 
with a great back covered with freckles, the size of a quarter, 
he wasn't very freckled either. Sports writers must have something 
sensational. When it isn't at hand they make it up, and often 
out of scant materials. Fitz's clothes always seemed too tight for 
him, too tight in the shoulders. He dressed rather flashily, not in 
taste like "Gentleman" Jim Corbett. He talked like a Cockney, 
pronouncing "half," "arf," and the like. As he walked along you 
could see that his legs were not of the same giant proportions as 
his shoulders. The latter were simply huge. 

You will find in the twenty-third book of the Iliad old Homer's 
description of the fight between the boxer Epeius and the boxer 
Euryalus, in which Epeius smote Euryalus, so that his legs sank 
beneath him. They fought in those days with thongs of ox-hide 
fitted about their hands. There may have been critics of the game, 
but they did not indulge for years in comparative analyses, and 
in fanciful reasons for the defeat of one or the other. The Homeric 
fight reminds one of the contests of Fitz, for when he smote an 
antagonist the latter's "glorious limbs" sank beneath him. 

I have been interested in pugilism all my life. I have seen many 
of the greatest of the pugilists. The reports of fights have a strange 
fascination for me, and I have always studied them, as later I have 
followed the explanations and criticisms and guesses of the men 
who follow the sport for the newspapers. If you will consider that 
many of them were not born when Corbett defeated Sullivan in 
1892, or even when Fitzsimmons defeated Corbett in 1897, you will 
see that when these judges of the sport indulge in comparisons, and 


The Time of Ruby Robert 113 

say that Louis is a greater puncher than Jeffries was, or that 
Peter Maher was a harder hitter than Louis, they are manifestly 
venturing an opinion without the facts having been gathered by 
the eyes. One thing that stands out is the constant cry that Louis 
was knocked down by Schmeling, and later by Galento, and that 
shows that he is not all that he is cracked up to be. They don't 
take into account that many of the greatest boxers were knocked 
down somewhere along the path of their career. The great Sullivan 
was knocked down by Charley Mitchell, who was a middleweight. 
Jack Johnson was knocked down by Stanley Ketchell, a middle- 
weight. Fitzsimmons was knocked down many times. Corbett was 
knocked down and knocked out. Dempsey was knocked out of the 
ring by Firpo. Tunney was knocked down for a long count by 
Dempsey. The list could be amplified. This is enough to prove that 
the most skilled boxer can get it and that it does not speak much 
one way or the other as to his standing. Certainly and plainly 
Sullivan was a better man than Mitchell; Jack Johnson was a 
better man than Ketchell, and Fitzsimmons was a better man 
than the men who floored him. Dempsey demonstrated his superior- 
ity over Firpo on the spot. And Tunney, though knocked down, 
got the decision, and I have never heard any great howl that he 
did so. The case against Louis passes out when the facts are 
considered which should enter into a judgment of him as a cham- 
pion. No one who knows anything would say that Galento is a 
better man than Louis. A big awkward fighter can get in 
a blow sometimes, and for that matter an ordinary man could 
knock Louis down, or Sullivan in his best days, if he got the right 
sock on the right spot. I have a memory of Sullivan being knocked 
down in barroom scraps. I am surprised to see experts give so much 
attention to the knock down that Louis received at the hands of 
Schmeling. Schmeling is a big man and when he got in the right 
blow on Louis, Louis had to go down, as great fighters did before 
him. There is nothing to this. 

I could put up a good argument to the effect that Fitzsimmons, 
all things considered, was the greatest fighter who ever lived, but 
it would be a long argument and intricate with comparisons back 
and forth. Along the way I'd have to get Dempsey out of the way, 
who at Toledo in his fight with Willard was a whirlwind of power 
and skill. I have felt that Fitz could have defeated Sullivan. But 
I'll not indulge in such speculations. I'll only say that Fitz never 

114 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

had a superior, and rest the case upon some salient facts. In this 
connection I might mention first the matter of his age when he won 
battles, this has bearing upon his strength and vitality. He was 
never anything more than a light heavyweight, a class created in 
1903 when George Gardner defeated Jack Root. Fitz defeated 
Gardner in the fall of 1903. So that when he defeated Corbett in 
1897 he was only the middleweight champion. 

Sullivan called Fitz a fighting machine on stilts, in reference 
to his spindling legs and his enormous shoulders and arms. But be 
it observed I don't recall an instance where Fitz's legs gave out on 
him. They seemed to have the endurance of steel. As to age he was 
thirty-five when he won the championship of the world over Cor- 
bett ; he was forty-one when he gave the giant Jeffries with his 220 
pounds of bone and muscle a terrible beating, and conceivably 
might have won the fight if his hands had not been turned to pulp 
by hammering the bronze head and jaws of Jeffries. On the other 
hand Corbett was towards thirty-one when he lost to Fitzsimmons; 
Dempsey was thirty-one when he lost to Tunney; Sullivan was 
thirty-four when he lost to Corbett. I differ from experts on fight- 
ing as to this age matter. A man at thirty-one or thirty-four is 
good enough for any man of any age. It may be that dissipation 
will lower a fighter's effective strength, but the mere matter of 
years, which have not advanced beyond thirty or so, will not do so. 
The case of Fitzsimmons proves this, and I stress it to make the 
point in favor of the Cornishman as a fighter with no superior. He 
had what no one can explain: he had strength, as Sullivan had, 
strength that can endure, that can rush and deliver great blows, 
strength that can stand up when beaten and bloody and fight on, 
as Sullivan did in his fight with Corbett. There was a report about 
that Sullivan was drunk the night before that fight. It is likely 
true, for Sullivan had been drinking heavily for years. And they 
say that is bad for the muscles and the wind — but look at Sullivan 
lasting for 21 rounds, chasing Corbett around the ring, and at last 
sinking in exhaustion in his corner. The standard reports of this 
fight say that Corbett defeated Sullivan; they do not say that 
Sullivan was knocked out. 

Corbett was a boxer. He cut his foes to pieces, and as for him- 
self he was hard to hit. He cut Fitzsimmons to ribbons, but it did 
not avail him, as it did in his fight with Sullivan. Fitz stayed on, 
though several years older than Corbett, and older than Sullivan 

The Time of Ruby Robert 115 

was when Corbett defeated him. These points are well to remember. 

I saw Fitzsimmons in action several times, first with a fighter 
named Ed Dunkhorst, who was called the "Human Freight Car." 
He was the Camera of his day. When the two stepped into the 
ring it looked like a fight between a grasshopper and a rat. You can 
well suppose that if Dunkhorst's weight had sent a blow to Fitz's 
jaw that Fitz would have gone down. Why not? Dunkhorst must 
have weighed towards three hundred. But Fitz almost murdered 
this huge slugger, as he waltzed around Dunkhorst planting ter- 
rible punches that made Dunkhorst grunt and double up. Before 
this time Fitz had defeated Peter Maher, and the first Jack Demp- 
sey and a long list of fighters of all weights. He took them all on, 
saying that the bigger they were the harder they fell. 

Then I saw the fight between Fitzsimmons and the champion of 
South Africa, a heavyweight named Jeff Thorne, or Jim Thorne, 
the name is differently reported. Thorne greatly outweighed Fitz, 
perhaps by twenty pounds anyway. Thorne was not to be despised. 
There had been so much talk by this time of Fitz's short punch, a 
kind of corkscrew it was, that I was very glad of the chance to 
see him use it on this Jeff Thorne. I wanted to see how it was that 
Fitz could put a man down so that he could not get up. In this 
connection you must admit that many champions didn't put their 
men down so that they could not get up; they wore them out, or 
cut them to pieces, or covered them with blood and bruises, or put 
them down as Dempsey put down Tunney — who got up. Fitz put 
them down for good. He did it with Corbett, and many others. 

Malachy Hogan, a referee long remembered as an honest man 
and a good fellow, met me on the street one day in Chicago and 
gave me a ringside seat to this fight between Fitz and Thorne. It 
was held at Tattersall's, and I was there on time, sitting within a 
few feet of the ring, waiting to see Fitz do the trick. 

Pretty soon the fighters entered the ring amid great applause. 
Fitz in a manner ambled into the ring, though he was quick and 
nimble enough. His indifference was laughable. He looked about 
as if he knew what the result was going to be, as if he wanted to 
get at the business and have it over. His legs were slender, but not 
too much so, not as much so as the cartoons of the time led one to 
believe that they were. He was bald, but what hair he had was not 
so ruby after all. The arresting thing about him was his shoul- 
ders, which were huge, with no ridges of muscles, but as it seemed 

116 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

with long thin muscles slipping and gliding smoothly and easily 
beneath his skin, not so freckled after all. His arms were the most 
powerful to look at that I ever saw, and without bulges. They were 
long symmetrical cables of muscle, like a python's body, like the legs 
of a large man. He probably weighed about 160, a good deal less 
than Thorne, that was clear. 

Fitz sat in his corner unconcerned, waiting for the bell, while 
Malachy Hogan stepped about getting ready to judge the fight. 
At last the bell! Fitz ambled over to the center of the ring, and 
there met Thorne coming on fast, full of fight, and striking out 
viciously over and over. He tried for Fitz's jaw. Fitz lifted up one 
of those huge shoulders, and sent the blow harmlessly to one side. 
He tried for Fitz's stomach. Fitz just drew in his stomach, and the 
blow fanned the air. Meantime Fitz did not strike a blow; and 
meantime I was watching every movement with concentrated eyes. 
The round ended with no damage. Thorne had not hit Fitz, Fitz 
had not tried to hit Thorne. I was wondering what cunning plan 
Fitz was nursing in that small bald head of his, I was watching to 
see the famous corkscrew. 

Well, the second round, with Thorne after Fitz as in the first 
round, to no result ! Then they got close together, and I looked and 
watched. Then this is what I saw: Fitz twisted a short blow to 
Thorne which caught him on the chin. The blow was not over six 
inches in delivery — but what a sock! You could tell that from the 
way that Thorne crumpled. He sank down to the resin. Malachy 
counted him out. He did not get up. He lay there limp and help- 
less. Malachy with the help of some others carried him to his corner. 
When he was put into his chair his head fell over on his breast. 
They rubbed him with ammonia. They sprayed champagne upon 
him. Still he did not come to. He was dead to the world. I wish I 
had held a watch on all this. But it was a good deal more than 18 
seconds. It seemed to me several minutes before Thorne awoke to 
the realities. He had received one of Fitz's twists from one of those 
python-like arms. Can you think of another fighter who did the 
like, or did what Fitz did at Carson City to Corbett? Does this 
count in measuring what Fitz was when compared to other fighters ? 

No championship should be decided on ten rounds. I indulge 
that judgment based upon what I have seen, for outside of Fitz 
and others, Choynski included, and Jack Johnson in a sparing 
match, I saw Young Griffo, Terry McGovern, Tommy West, Benny 

The Time of Ruby Robert 11T 

Leonard, Harry Wills, Firpo, and in the old days Joe Goddard, 
Jim Hall, a marvelous boxer, whom Fitz defeated with some diffi- 
culty, and once a few years before Sullivan died I saw him spar with 
Jake Kilrain. A fighter can be very bad off in the tenth round, or 
even in the fifteenth round, and then come on and score the victory. 
That's what it means to have strength, that enigmatic X. That's 
what it means to fight 75 rounds, as Sullivan did with Jake Kil- 
rain. That's what it means to be bleeding and reeling, as Fitz was 
in the 13th round at Carson City, and then in the 14th round to 
score a terrible knockout. Which shows that a man's strength and 
punching power can be on tap when he is bleeding. In these days 
a technical knockout is awarded when a man is blind and bleeding. 
Not in the old days, not in the days of Homer, nor in the days 
when Jeffries was blind from Fitz's blows at Coney Island. 

One time in a conversation with Corbett, not many years before 
his death, I asked him how it was that he had fought sixty rounds, 
and others had fought as many in former days, and then in these 
later days 15 rounds were considered a long fight, long enough 
to test the superiority of one of the contestants. His reply was that 
fighters grew to be trained for speed and terrific strength, quickly 
exerted; while formerly they were trained for endurance, trained 
by running and other exercises that make for wind. There is some- 
thing to this, but it doesn't quite convince. Later than this I read a 
statement by Tunney in which he said that ten rounds were not 
enough upon which a championship should pass. And I believe that 
in the second fight between him and Dempsey, Dempsey might have 
scored a knockout if the fight had gone to fifteen rounds. The 
matter comes back to that enigmatic thing called strength, to 
which I have already referred. In this talk I furnish material for 
experts to argue, but I am an expert myself, since I have done for 
years what experts do, namely, I have watched fights, read the re- 
ports of fights, and talked to experts who have seen fights that I 
did not see. 

Fitz's fight with Corbett at Carson City helps to prove my 
point. I didn't see this fight, but I have talked by the hour about 
it with Bob Davis, who was in Fitz's corner there, representing the 
New York Journal, and as a coach to Fitz. You will find descrip- 
tions of this fight in plenty, but none so vivid as that Bob Davis 
can give at the luncheon table. It was a fierce fight, animated by 
hate on Corbett's part, and by cool ambition on Fitz's. Corbett 

118 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

kept dancing about jabbing and cutting Fitz, and dodging Fitz's 
blows. He hit Fitz enough. He covered him with blood. In the sixth 
round Fitz was down. It seemed that Fitz was through. In the thir- 
teenth round Fitz presented a spectacle as terrible as Galento did 
in his recent fight with Louis. But the fight was not stopped. It 
had to go on to a finish. 

Bob Davis told me that Fitz came back to his corner at the end 
of the thirteenth round with his chest streaming with blood, with 
his face covered with blood, with his eyes half-blinded. He sat down 
and his seconds began to sponge him off, to work on him. Then 
Fitz said coolly and as a matter of fact that he would get Corbett 
in the next round and to put up money on it, to tell the boys to 
bet. Think of that! When Bob heard Fitz say this he turned to 
his fellows and told them to put their money on Fitz. That was the 
amount of confidence that Bob Davis had in Fitz, sitting there 
covered with blood. More than that he sent a wire to his paper, 
saying that Fitz had won in the fourteenth round. This before 
the round was fought! But it was soon fought. Fitz worked what 
was called "the fatal shift," some kind of a placing and bracing of 
his feet in which all his bulk and strength were put into leverage, 
and he delivered the solar plexus, a blow to the midriff, which sent 
Corbett writhing and helpless, defeated and counted out. Every- 
body knows what it is to get a blow in the pit of the stomach. That 
was what Fitz gave Corbett. He had studied it out, and it did the 
trick. That made Fitz heavyweight champion of the world, at 
thirty-five years of age, weighing about 160 pounds. He began 
then to tour the country heralded as the champion of champions. 
He was thus heralded, but his name lacked magic somehow. He 
didn't clean up. He was not a gentleman, a Shakespearean ama- 
teur; he was a fighter. Six years after this time he won the light 
heavyweight championship. He was only the world's middleweight 
champion when he defeated Corbett. 

In 1898 Jeffries after a bruising fight in San Francisco with 
Tom Sharkey, gaining the decision in the 20th round, was after 
Fitz. Fitz told him to go and get a reputation. Finally when the 
match was made Jeffries took on Tommy Ryan as a trainer, a 
very foxy and able fighter. He trained Jeffries so that Fitz would 
have difficulty in hitting him. That is he trained him to a kind 
of crouch, with the head down and one fist thrust forward. The 
great hulk, Jeffries, with his 220 pounds of bronze-like flesh, did 

The Time of Ruby Robert 119 

not want to be hit by a fist with only 160 pounds back of it, seeing 
that those pounds were Fitz's. Fitz gave Jeffries everything he had. 
He was then thirty-seven years of age. Jeffries was twenty-four. 
In the 11th round Jeffries knocked old Fitz out. 

Fitz turned forty and challenged Jeffries. In the meantime 
Jeffries had fought Tom Sharkey 25 rounds and had won the de- 
cision. There was no knock down. For the first time that I know 
anything about, pictures were made of the fight. I saw them and 
studied them, watching the short Sharkey and the tall bear-like 
Jeffries fight toe to toe, round after round. You couldn't tell from 
the pictures that either one had any advantage. They toed the 
mark and slugged. Often Jeffries' head went back, often Jeffries 
soaked Sharkey with terrific blows. But it turned out that Sharkey's 
ribs were smashed. The fight looked like a draw. But after ob- 
servation at the hospital it was not difficult for doctors to say that 
Sharkey was badly punished, even if not knocked out. 

At this time there was a huge fellow named Gus Ruhlin, called 
the giant grip-man, as he had run a grip-car. In the week before 
Fitz fought Jeffries the second fight, Fitz took on this Ruhlin, 
defeating him handily in a few rounds. Also in. this week he took 
on Sharkey, knocking him out in two rounds, as I remember the 
facts. True, Sharkey had been badly macerated in that fight with 
Jeffries, but what do you think of the trick that Fitz turned in 
actually knocking out the tough Tom Sharkey? Then came Fitz's 
second fight with Jeffries. It took place at San Francisco. 

As I am writing this article a magazine is on my desk with a 
piece in it by Hype Igoe, in which he says that Fitz gave Jeffries 
the most awful beating that he ever saw a man take in the ring, 
and that Dempsey's destruction of Willard or Firpo cannot be 
compared to it. I have heard the same thing from men who were 
on the ground, from Louis Houseman, a sports writer for Chicago 
papers, from Malachy Hogan already mentioned. Fitz was over 
forty, and Jeffries twenty-six. Fitz was a light heavyweight, Jef- 
fries was one of the heaviest of the heavyweights. 

Houseman told me that Jeffries at the last was nothing but 
bloody pulp, he was blinded, reeling. In these days the fight might 
have been stopped to save the life of Jeffries. Fitz had the fight 
won by a large margin until the strange end of things in the 
eighth round. Then suddenly Jeffries, out of his blindness, delivered 
a blow which sent Fitz sprawling to the mat. It turned out that 

120 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

what happened was this : Fitz walked close to Jeff, saying, "Hit me, 
Jeff." That's what he told Houseman, and Houseman told this to 
me. Spectators did not realize at the time that Fitz had nothing 
on which to continue* the fight. His hands were just mush, bloody 
mush. That's why he said to Jeffries, "Hit me, Jeff," and exposed 
himself so that Jeffries could do it. When Fitz was in his dressing 
room they had to cut the gloves from his hands. His endurance had 
not deserted him, he was simply without weapons. Can any fight by 
Sullivan, by Dempsey, by anyone be compared to this? To me it 
puts Fitz at the top. For courage, for power, for skill, for fighting 
will, there is nothing in the record of Sullivan down to Joe Louis 
that holds a candle to it. 

After this fight Fitz drifted around, sometimes fighting, but 
not notably. He got to be fifty and wanted to fight. The authorities 
would not let him. His purse was thin, and finally it came out that 
he had died in Chicago, aged fifty-six. Like other men he had to 
leave it to posterity to judge of him, to decide how good he was; 
and as in the case of other men, experts argue about him, and lie 
about him, and misvalue his record. So far as I am concerned I 
think he was a wonder in every way. 

Jonnny-on-tne- w Spot IF 

November, 19^1 

I'm not making any predictions about this Fall, but the record 
seems to show that every two years something pretty awful 
happens to me either in football or basketball. My ears ring 
with the long sibilant notes of the Bronx cheer wafted on the 
autumn breeze. Take 1936 and that Minnesota-Northwestern pen- 
alty business or the Notre Dame-Carnegie Tech game in 1938 — 
But before we get to that, let's set up this proposition of Johnny- 

I got into this business by accident. Johnny-on-the-spot, I've 
tried to be in every play that I follow. But looking over my slap- 
happy life among the intercollegiates, I find that that "spot" I 
speak of means a location usually behind the well known eight-ball. 

You who were athletic heroes can remember what a huge kick 
it was to stand out on the field and be cheered by 50,000 howling 

Well, how would you like to stand out on a field and be roundly 
jeered by 50,000 yowling fans? 

I said I got into this intercollegiate business by accident. One 
night I was planning to take the wife, then a bride of less than a 
year, to see Notre Dame and Minnesota shoot away at each other 
on the basketball court. Around that time I was picking up loose 
change here and there as a high school whistle-blower. Naturally I 
was shooting for big time. But, not so fast as to be called on the 
phone just before this Irish-Gopher blood battle was to start and 
to be told, "You're elected. The referee has taken ill. Here's your 

My chance — before the home town folks in the Twin Cities, the 
place where I made my living? I didn't want it. I'd much rather 
have made my debut away from Minneapolis. Those fans are sports 


122 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

bugs and they don't mind letting you have it if you call something 
they don't like. 

So, while the wife sat in the stands, alone, watching her hand- 
some hero, I strolled out on the court. The game started and 
stopped in one second. I stopped it. I saw a Gopher foul an Irish- 
man and called it, awarding two free throws to Notre Dame. 

You should have heard that crowd ! 

They hushed down just as the boy stepped up to toss his free 
shots. From somewhere out of the mob came a searing stab which 
I'll never forget. The voice from the grandstand yelled : 

"Hey, take that whistle away from that kid before he hurts 

I took it standing up, though, and have been taking it ever 
since, but the remark my wife sobbed out to me as I met her after 
the game is something else I won't forget for awhile. 

She said, "John, dear, must we make our living this way?" 

Yes, I was determined to beat the rap. Other officials did and 
do. Why not me? It's my life and I love it. 

When I say "it's my life" I often wonder why so many things 
must happen to me. Yes, I know. Much of it I brought on to my- 
self — like the little incident when Carnegie Tech and Notre Dame 
were fighting it out on the football field, the stakes nothing more 
or less than the national championship. 

But, I'll get to that one later. 

That, I'll admit was my mistake. But, many of the tenser 
moments of my life were brought on by outside circumstances. 

For instance, that time I was working a three-day high school 
basketball tournament. The first night one of the teams lost by 
twelve points. No cause for argument there. Yet, when I walked 
off the floor, fifteen men jumped me all at one time. When I picked 
myself off the floor, my clothes were torn off, half the bleachers 
had been smashed. Police had to be called in to control the scene. 

Or the time an inquisitive Chicago detective opened the door of 
my cab while it waited for a stop light to say "go." 

When I am listed for a game in Chicago, I leave my home in 
Minneapolis by fast train, arriving in Chicago shortly before game 
time. It's been my habit to change to my referee's uniform while 
crossing town in the cab. But this detective — how was he to know 
when he peeked into my window and saw me in my underwear? I 

Johnny-on-the-"Spot" 123 

tell you it took some fast talking on my part to get him to let 
me go on my way. 

I imagine you have often cut up and sorted out the big mo- 
ments in your life like I have mine. I have three groups — great, 
tremendous and colossal. 

We will pass over the first two groups and start out with "colos- 

Number 1 Colossal dates back to November £, 1936. 

Northwestern's Wildcats were playing gridiron host to the 
Thundering Herd of Minnesota that day. Newspapermen called it 
the most important game in the nation for that week end. North- 
western was undefeated for the year. Minnesota hadn't been beaten 
in twenty-one games, nearly three years. It was one of those days 
when unusual things seemed doomed to happen. Sunshine, then 
snow, then rain. Low, overhanging clouds, forty-seven thousand 
people, a sellout, the first sellout in Evanston since Knute Rockne's 
last team played there in 1932. 

And I was slated to referee ! 

Harry MacNamara, of the Chicago Eaminer must have had a 
premonition. I read his pre-game story. 

" — one of these officials — Referee Johnny Getchell — will be 
on the spot. He is a graduate of St. Thomas College in St. Paul. 
Also, he is a resident and business man of Minneapolis. Getchell's 
integrity and his ability as a referee are not questioned. The fact 
that Getchell may be obliged to make a ruling during the game 
which may mean the difference between victory and defeat for 
Northwestern puts the referee, and Griffith, too, in embarrassing 
positions, which the commissioner could have avoided by selecting 
another official . . ." 

Mr. MacNamara called the turn about making a decision which 
meant victory for one team, defeat for another. 

Late in the final quarter, the two great teams were fighting 
furiously. Neither had been able to put over a touchdown. Sud- 
denly, Minnesota's Julie Alfonse fumbled and Northwestern re- 
covered on the Gopher fifteen-yard line. On the second play fol- 
lowing I saw Minnesota's All- American Tackle, Ed Widseth, rough 
Don Geyer, Wildcat halfback. There was nothing other for me to 
do than penalize Minnesota for unnecessary roughness, which took 
the ball to the one-yard line. From there, Northwestern scored the 
touchdown that won the game. 

124 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

After the game I had forgotten about it. Naturally I felt 
sorry for Minnesota. Yet it was my duty to call them as I saw 
them and I saw that. I spent the next day in Chicago, and still 
didn't think of what the reaction might be. I returned to Minne- 
apolis on Monday. And it was then I learned the whole town was 
aroused, as well as sports writers from coast to coast. Motion pic- 
tures of the game were featured throughout the country, with the 
play in question displayed in slow motion. Controversy fanned the 
flames of the argument into a white heat. 

One newspaper finally, in desperation, appeared with an eight- 
column display the contents of which I repeat here: 


"The thunder-clouds of post game argument concerning the 
6-0 victory of Northwestern over Minnesota last Saturday keep 
crashing together. And every time they crash, the phrase, 'if Min- 
nesota hadn't been penalized 15 yards for slugging' comes thun- 
dering out, roaring an injustice to the two men most concerned 
— co-captain Ed Widseth and Referee John Getchell. 

"Eastern, Chicago and other writers at the game persist in 
terming Widseth's alleged infraction of the rules as slugging. 
Whereas it actually was 'unnecessary roughness. 9 And, we ask 
you to believe this — if Widseth had been guilty of slugging, the 
Gophers would have been better off. For Northwestern, by 
almost wide odds, could not have scored. Let us look at the facts : 

"The penalty for unnecessary roughness is 15 yards. And first 
down for the offensive team if committed by the defensive. 

"The penalty for slugging is half the distance to the offending 
team's goal line and banishment from the game of the player who 
committed the foul. 

"Therefore, had Widseth been guilty of slugging and absorbed 
the notoriety that goes with such an offense, he would have been 
put out of the game. 

"And northwestern would have been advanced from the 
thirteen yard line to the six and one half yard line. 

" — Widseth was called for unnecessary roughness by mussing 
up the ball-carrier's face in a pile up. It easily could be uninten- 
tional but still a 15 yard penalty. 

"Widseth's record as a clean player through seven years of 

Johnny-on-the-"Spot" 125 

competitive football entitles him to be free of the stigma of having 
slugged an 'opponent. 

"Getchell's record as a competent and fearless official entitles 
him to be free of the charge of not knowing the rules. If he had 
figured Widseth actually 'slugged' he would have put him out of 
the game and inflicted the half-the-distance penalty. 

" — let us not do injustice to two men who are standouts in their 
respective football fields." 

There were other repercussions, a Widseth Defense Fund was 
talked of. Sports writer Joe Williams of New York questioned the 
wisdom of putting officials in important positions where their 
personal opinions can decide a game. 

Some men of authority and expertness came to my aid. Frank 
Murray, then Marquette's coach and now at Virginia University 

"I take off my hat to Johnny Getchell ... In all my experi- 
ence I have never seen an official in a tougher spot . . . Yet he 
had nerve enough to forget everything in the world except that 
he was an impartial observer, honestly trying to enforce the rules 
which he knew so well ... I think coaches will generally wish 
that there were more Johnnys-on-the-spot." 

Major Griffith was very kind in starting off a letter to me this 

"I did not get to see you after the game last Saturday, but 
want to tell you that I think you worked a splendid game and 
showed magnificent courage and sportsmanship. I did not see the 
foul but know that you would not have called it if it had not hap- 
pened. Of course, there will be a few rabid individuals who may 
annoy you but the majority of our college men admire courage, 
honesty, and integrity and I am writing just to say to you that 
I would not let any of the other fellows bother me." 

The United Press reviewed how the motion pictures showed the 
much discussed play this way: 

". . . Referee John Getchell did not err in calling the roughing 
penalty. After Don Geyer plunges off Minnesota's left tackle, the 
pictures show him falling on his back with face upward. Ed Wid- 
seth dives at the fallen Northwestern player and strikes him across 
the face with his arm. He repeats the blow a second time . . ." 

These words plus an offer, which I accepted, to referee the New 

126 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Year's Day Cotton Bowl game at Dallas helped to soothe the 
wounds of battle. 

During all those "warm" days, my wife and two children were 
real troupers, making the show go on around home as if nothing 
happened. Many times I wondered if they really thought I had 
pulled a boner in that game. I am convinced, though, they felt the 
way I did — that what I did was entirely justifiable. 

In my own mind, I heard again those words my wife cried to me 
early in my career. Must I earn a living this way? To quit right 
then and there would have been an easy out. Yet was it the right 
way out? A quitter admits defeat. Somehow, I'm not built that way. 
I recalled how many times I've seen boys on the field show out- 
standing courage against great odds. I argued with myself to be 
just as strong. And I decided to stick to the ship. 

That ship sailed out of the stormy seas that fall and through 
the basketball winter of 1937 and the football season of 1937. 
Once again I was at peace with the world. Things happened, true, 
but nothing more or less than what is ordinary to any other man 
in the whistle-tooting profession. 

And then came No. 2 Colossal of my life. 

Notre Dame and Carnegie Tech, two undefeated football teams, 
were fighting it out at South Bend on that never-to-be-forgotten 
day of October 22, 1938. Three-quarters of the game was over and 
the final quarter was three minutes old. Neither team had scored. 
Tech had the ball on its own 47-yard line, a yard to go for a first 

I, as a referee, was waiting for the play to start when the Tech 
quarterback, Paul Friedlander, stepped over and asked, "What 
down is it?" 

I promptly answered, "Third down." Friedlander called a run- 
ning play in an effort to get that extra yard and a first down. 
Tech's back, Carnelly, fumbled but recovered, still short of a first 
down. Tech then lined up into a fourth-down kick formation. 
Notre Dame objected, took possession of the ball. That started 
the storm. Head Linesman, Joe Lipp, informed me it already had 
been fourth down and that the Engineers had lost the ball on 
downs. Right then and there I admitted I had made a mistake. I 
had called the wrong down. 

The Tech players blew up. Coach Bill Kern of Tech rushed 
onto the field to protest as did Coach Elmer Layden of the Irish. 

Johnny-on-the-"Spot" 127 

There was nothing more for me to do but admit the mistake, and 
since the rule books don't provide a penalty against the referee, 
something I wish there had been at that moment, I had to tell the 
irate Techmen the ball belonged to Notre Dame. 

Three plays later the Irish had a touchdown and that was the 
ball game. I have no doubt that the strong Carnegie team was dis- 
organized by the decision. And probably the touchdown was a 
direct result of my mistake. There was no choice but to give the 
ball to Notre Dame. 

After the game I boarded a train bound for Minneapolis. I was 
hoping the mistake would be forgotten. Bernie Bierman was on 
the train, too, having scouted Illinois that day for a future engage- 
ment. We sat together and talked. I told him what had happened. 
I remembered he said, "There won't be much said about it. For- 
get it." His words made me feel better. Bernie having been in the 
national spotlight so long, I felt he had a better slant on public 
and press reactions. Yet the fact that I once had been a sports 
writer looking for hot news kept me awake wondering whether 
other sports writers would consider this mistake of mine "hot 

Crash ! The following Monday hit me like an earthquake. That 
Widseth incident was nothing compared to this. From Carnegie 
Tech's home in Pittsburgh, Bill Kern aimed a verbal blast at me 
that all but burned the Associated Press wires. "It was the biggest 
bonehead I ever saw pulled by any official," Bill said, and added, 
"It certainly meant defeat to us." 

And my name took an awful beating from then on. They called 
me "Wrong Down Johnny." Papers wrote public letters asking 
me "What Down is it?" The mails brought me some twenty-five 
arithmetic books, seventeen whistles, various drawings by punsters 
from coast to coast. 

I even overheard my youngest daughter, Mary, make this re- 
mark after the oldest daughter, Barbara, had said something about 
daddy being "the smartest man in the whole world." 

Mary said, "Gee, he can't be so awfully smart; he can't even 
count to four." 

I got wires from eastern newspapers asking whether the rumors 
were true that I was going to quit refereeing. Silly stage offers 
which were, of course, gags of some pranksters. 

I admit my case looked mighty sad. And there I was with the 

128 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

honest but lame excuse, "I made a mistake." I knew then as I know 
now that such mistakes are made three to four times every year. 
But, in such a game, well — it just had to happen to me. 

The griddle didn't start cooling until Elmer Layden issued a 
statement to the Press which said: 

"The Carnegie Tech quarterback knew fourth down was com- 
ing when he called the play that led to the dispute over Referee 
John Getchell's ruling. The outcry against Getchell is, I think, 
unsportsmanlike in these attempts to malign a competent official 
who made a mistake any man might have made and who apolo- 
gized for it. Any further discussion of the dispute seems to be in 
poor taste, but since I am asked to comment, I only want to point 
out that it is the quarterback's responsibility to know what down 
it is. The scoreboard and the head linesman's marker showed fourth 

"The Tech players knew it was fourth down, because they 
checked signals when Friedlander called a running play. But he 
called it again, apparently trying to take a chance with official 

Asa Bushness, executive director of eastern intercollegiate ath- 
letics, didn't feel the same way about it. He issued this statement : 

"If one of our eastern referees had been in a spot like that, I'd 
have expected him to run the play over. It might offend a few of 
the experts, but it would be the sensible thing to do and fair to 
both teams." 

But the rule book didn't say such a thing could be done. 

I thought of that, too, in fact, it was the first thing that came 
to my mind after I realized my mistake. But my Bible is the rule 

Much of the tension was released later in the week when I 
received a wire which read: 

"Reports of my comments on you personally very much exag- 
gerated. Consensus of our own squad and myself that we forget 
the whole thing. We all wish you the best of luck. — Bill Kern." 

I stuck to my schedule of remaining games, but everywhere I 
went the local newspapers kept recalling it. 

In November Los Angeles newspapers greeted me with sport- 
page headlines reading, "Wrong Down official works here." An- 
other writer called me the "hot water official of the Middlewest." 

The only other anti-Getchell outburst occurred two weeks after 

Johnny-on-the-"Spot" 129 

the Tech-Irish game when Tech tumbled mighty Pittsburgh into 
defeat, which assured the Engineers of a bowl bid somewhere. The 
Tech students on the Monday following this victory went on 
parade and burned my name in effigy, along with that of Jock 
Sutherland, then coach at Pitt. 

After the season closed, Tech was invited and accepted the 
chance to play in the New Year's Day Sugar Bowl game at New 
Orleans. I was glad for them. 

Not long after, I was called to the telephone at my home one 
night, to hear the person at the other end of the line say, "Johnny, 
we'd like to have you work in the Sugar Bowl game. Let us know 
your answer." 

I thought some of my friends were pulling a practical joke. 
Work in that game! The last thing I could expect, I thought. I 
spent the next fifteen minutes tracing the call — and found that it 
really had come from Bill Kern in Pittsburgh. 

The announcement of my acceptance of the bid reached the 
newspapers about the same time the seventy sports editors taking 
part in the Associated Press annual poll voted that I had won the 
strange honor of contributing sports' outstanding oddity during 

It wasn't many days before I realized the job down in the 
Sugar Bowl, in which Tech was to play Texas Christian, was going 
to be another of those predicaments where Johnny's on-the-spot. 

I knew that the smallest kind of a decision in favor of Tech 
would be interpreted by some as an attempt to even things up. Or 
a decision in favor of T.C.TL would be taken that I wanted to 
"get even" with Kern, or that I wanted to show I wasn't favoring 

My wife and I arrived in New Orleans a few days ahead so that 
we could see some of the beautiful sights down there. We stepped 
into a sight-seeing car in which were sitting three other people. 
As we rode about town, the three gentlemen started discussing the 
big game. My hat nearly fell off when I heard one say : 

"Say, it's a funny thing about bringing that Getchell down 

"Yeah, that's what I think," another of the three commented. 

"I think Tech's bringing him here to give the break to them 
this time," the third fellow said. 

All the while I was edging closer and closer to my wife, my ears 

130 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

burning. Then one of the men asked me what I thought about 

I reached into my pocket, took out one of my business cards and 
handed it to him. You should have seen their faces. When we got 
out of the car a bit later, my wife said: "I want to apologize for 
something, John. I've always said you talk too much. Today you've 
proved you don't." 

The New Orleans papers were fair to me and I felt very much 
at ease. Only one writer made comment, and that was to compare 
how I "backed into fame" somewhat like Fred Merkle, who, you 
remember, forgot to touch second base and cost the Giants a 
pennant, and like Roy Riegels, the only man known to have run 
backwards in the Rose Bowl. 

I wasn't sure what kind of a reception I'd get when I stepped 
out on the Sugar Bowl field. You can bet I was surprised and 
pleased when the crowd gave me a big hand. Between halves when 
many asked for autographs, I signed them all "Wrong Down 

The game was one of the best I've ever seen and while the Texas 
boys won, there wasn't a decision that drew criticism. The players 
hit each other mighty hard but when a play was over, they helped 
each other to their feet and praised the other fellow's play. Won- 
derful spirit of sportsmanship, I thought. 

The year 1939 was good to me, and while people still call me 
"Wrong Down Johnny," I know that No. % Colossal has faded into 
the past and left me no worse for the blunder. 

I often wonder when and if No. S Colossal will come. Right now, 
I'll settle with the Gods of Fate. I want no more. 

Football's Greatest Backrields 


November, 19^3 

By naming the outstanding backfield of each five-year period 
I of football, we are able to make a quick survey of many of 
the important trends of the game over the past sixty years, 
and note the rise and decline of many leading football schools. 

To me there never has been a greater backfield combination in 
football than the Stanford backfield of 1940: Frankie Albert, 
quarterback; Norman Standlee, fullback; Hugh Gallarneau, right 
half ; and Pete Kmetovic, left half. My contention is that this back- 
field could accomplish as much using the T-formation as any other 
backfield could have accomplished in any of the other standard 
systems — single wing, double wing, short punt, box, etc. I wouldn't 
say that this Stanford backfield playing one of these other systems 
would rate as one of the great backfields. But it just so happened 
that their qualifications fitted exactly the requirements of the T 
style of offense. 

First of all there was Albert, a superb ball-handler, a magician 
with the ball, and a gifted field general; wonderfully observing, 
a great left-handed passer and a great kicker. Frankie was not used 
in this system as a blocker or a ball carrier, assignments in which 
he would have been at a great disadvantage because he was neither 
strong nor fast. His talents were primarily those of a fakir; he 
could fool people; and by temperament he ate up that sort of an 

A typical example of the way Albert ran a team came up in 
the tough game we had with u.c.l.a. At this stage of the game 
there was no certainty that we were going to win. We had made 
an advance to about the u.c.l.a. 30-yard line, where we bogged 
down; and it stood fourth down and around 1£ to go. The ques- 
tion was whether to do the ordinary thing and kick. Albert called 
a pass to Kmetovic who caught it for a first down. Nobody in the 


132 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

stands, nobody agreed with his judgment. To them it was crack- 
pot, unsound football. But of course they didn't know the story. 

When they came in, I said to Frankie : "That was quite a play. 
What was your reason?" I always ask for a reason; if they have 
a sound reason I call it a good play, no matter how it comes out. 
"Why didn't you kick?" I asked him. 

"Coach," he told me, "if I'd kicked, the chances were I'd gone 
over the goal. I decided to gamble the ten yards against a first 
down; besides I felt positive I had that spot open." 

At staff school in the Army, I am told, the men to be officers 
are picked on the general background of "flair and judgment." 
This play, it seems to me, is a splendid illustration of "flair and 

I have often said that Norman Standlee was one of the great- 
est players I have ever known or seen. He was a tremendous player, 
gifted by the gods with a terrific physique, weighing at his best 
nearly 220 ; six feet one inch tall, of remarkable speed for so large 
a man. I think he had the most drive of any plunger in football 
history. Standlee functioned at his best when he did not have to 
wait for a direct pass from center. His power and agility were his 
strengths, and any system in which he could get his power under 
way without being handicapped by having to catch the ball from 
center first was the type of offense in which he was at his best. 

Pete Kmetovic couldn't block anybody, but he could start like a 
flash ; and after Albert had faked the ball to Standlee, the defense 
was stretching open holes that Kmetovic could dart through and 
out into the open. He could spot a hole in a flash and once in the 
clear, he was one of the finest open field runners I have ever seen. 
As a man-in-motion in the T-formation, he was at his very best 
because of his speed, change of pace and pass catching ability. It 
was impossible for the defense to match a man against him as he 
roamed from side line to side line looking for an opening to dart 
into and catch a pass. 

The fourth member of this backfield and perhaps from many 
standpoints the most valuable of all was Hugh Gallarneau, who 
combined great blocking with wonderful ball carrying ability. He 
wasn't as shifty as Kmetovic, though he had more speed ; he didn't 
have the crushing momentum of Standlee, but he had ever so 
much more power than Kmetovic. He was a typical off-tackle run- 
ner, with an outstanding knack for starting from scratch for a 

Football's Greatest Backfields 133 

hole, gathering speed in one stride; and if the hole he was sup- 
posed to find was closed >and there was an opening a few inches 
to the right or left he could swerve into that hole as fast as any 
player who ever lived. 

So, with no apologies, I take my Stanford backfield of 1940 for 
the current period. Going back to the 1935-40 period I am just as 
quickly "sold" on my quartet. 

Ask any Panther football fan to name the greatest backfield 
in the history of the University of Pittsburgh, and without a dis- 
senting voice the answer will be Harold Stebbins, Dick Cassiano, 
John Chickerneo and Marshall Goldberg. Checking into the records 
of these men individually and the records of the team on which 
they played, it is easy to see why Pittsburgh's Dream Backfield 
is given such a rating. They played together for two years, 1937 
and 1938, rolling up a total score of 416 to 93. 

In 1934 Minnesota had one of the strongest power-attack teams 
in history. There were four ball carriers in that backfield who 
could hit the line like the recoil of a 16-inch Coast Artillery gun, 
and all of them had the speed and shiftiness to go if they sheared 
off into the open. 

This backfield was led by the splendid quarterback Glen Seidel, 
an exceptionally smart general and an expert blocker. The heav- 
iest power came from the two smashing fullbacks, Sheldon Beise 
and Stan Kostka. Add to these at the halfbacks the great Pug 
Lund and Julius Alphonse and you have a backfield that for a 
power running attack would be hard to surpass. 

For the 1925-30 period I'll take the Dartmouth backfield of 
1925. Dartmouth was national champion that year. The team car- 
ried on the "brains" game established by the 1924 Green eleven 
which was Eastern champion. In 1924 Dartmouth could put on the 
field a team, without one player under second-string rating, every 
man of which was, then or later, a Phi Beta Kappa. The 1925 team 
was as high in scholastic rating. 

Oberlander as a passer was an unforgettable star. He played 
tackle in the 1924 team but Jess Hawley took him out of the line 
and put him in the backfield for his great year. Miles Lane was 
high point scorer of 1925. 

The first and foremost famous backfield combination in football 
history was Knute Rockne's Four Horsemen at Notre Dame who 
reached their peak in 1924. Rockne once told me that the secret 

134 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

of these boys' greatness was the fact that "their strengths and 
weaknesses dove-tailed perfectly." Where one boy was a little shy, 
the other had a little extra. 

Notre Dame didn't use the right half for short side plays so 
much in those days. They shifted to the left and then operated to 
the strong side almost as often as they did to the right. This gave 
the right half about as much ball-carrying as the left half, and 
Don Miller did plenty of it. In the Georgia Tech game of 1924, 
for example, he made touchdown runs of 88, 60 and 30 yards in 
his team's 34<-to-7 triumph. 

At left half was Sleepy Jim Crowley, 155 pounder, a typical 
left half of the Notre Dame system. He was the break-away run- 

Fullback was Elmer Layden. 

At quarterback was Harry Stuhldreher, present Wisconsin 
coach, a fine sound football man, a real leader and general. The 
late Judge Walter P. Steffen, All-American quarterback at Chi- 
cago in 1907 and for many years head coach at Carnegie Tech, 
told me that one year in preparing his team for a game with the 
Four Horsemen, he gave his Carnegie team four trick defenses to 
try to stop the scintillating onslaught of this great backfield. He 
related that Stuhldreher would rise up in giving his signals, take 
one glance at this continually changing defense, and not one single 
time during the entire ball game did he fail to call exactly the right 
play to take fullest advantage of the weakness of the radical and 
unusual defense he was facing. That is a quarterback. 

During the other war, Georgia Tech in 1917 came up with one 
of the all-time great backfields of history, with Hill at quarter- 
back, Harlan at full, and Strupper and Indian Joe Guyon at the 
halfbacks. Guyon, big and fast, was a great blocker and ball car- 
rier, while Strupper, his running mate, was a jack-rabbit. Guyon 
did the punting. All four of these backs were good ball carriers. 

In the period of 1910-1915 Harvard assumed the scepter for its 
brief rule in the changing realm of football. Percy Haughton, a 
coach wonderfully systematic in little matters, was the man be- 
hind Harvard's rise. This era - of supremacy centers around the 
years of Charley Brickley and Eddie Mahan. In 1913 Harvard 
was the leading team of the country. 

Brickley in 1913 was rated by Walter Camp "back of the 

Football's Greatest Backfields 135 

year." In addition to his numerous field goals, he was a fine run- 
ning back. 

Mahan was an ideal all-around type of back to go with him. He 
was greatest as a punter, where his distance and accuracy were 
marvelous. He was also one of the fine early passers, and great 
as an end runner. 

In the period of 1905-1910, Yale, it seems to me, reached its 
peak. It was the full-throated expression of all that one of its most 
honored sons, Walter Camp, had to give to the game. 

This Yale backfield of 1909 had power in the beautifully- 
muscular Ted Coy, called by Camp the "best all-around kicking 
fullback of his time.', 5 Coy gave them their punch. But almost as 
sensational was Philbin at halfback, the breakaway type — ideal to 
pair up with Coy. Philbin had speed and dodging ability. In every 
game that year he had long runs to his credit, many of them setting 
his team up for scores. 

Of the four "Heston backfields," which dominated western 
football from 1901 through 1904, that of 1902 was the best four- 
man unit, according to Coach Fielding H. Yost himself. Willie 
Heston, left half; Albert Herrnstein, right half; and Harrison 
Weeks, quarterback ; were all spendid open field runners. Although 
Heston scored 16 touchdowns during the season when the Wol- 
verines ran up 644 points to 12 for the opposition, Herrnstein 
topped his mark with 27. 

Of Weeks, the quarterback, Yost insisted at the time he was 
playing that: "As a leader of forces and strategist I believe he 
has no equal on the gridiron today." Everett Sweeley, the fullback 
in this mighty backfield, was a great kicker, who in four years of 
play never had a kick blocked. All of the backs in this backfield 
could handle punts and return them. It was a backfield of break- 
away runners from Heston right on through. 

The football season of 1898 is noteworthy because it marked 
the first appearance of a western man on the All-American. To 
Clarence Herschberger of Chicago went that honor. Herschberger 
was the outstanding man in a strong backfield that played together 
two years at Chicago, in 1899 winning the first championship for 
Amos Alonzo Stagg. 

Pennsylvania was the first big school to move into the charmed 
circle of the Big Three — Yale, Harvard, and Princeton — in foot- 
ball. George Woodruff', star Yale guard of 1886-87, went to Penn- 

136 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

sylvania to coacli in 189&. There he developed the famous "guards 
back" play, in which the guards would drop back out of the line 
into the backfield and drive as massed interference on the point 
to be hit by the ball carrier. In 1894 his teams won 12 straight, 
scoring S66 points to W and opened a winning streak that ran 
to 34 in the next three years before Lafayette finally broke it in 
1896 in a 6-to-4 game. 

Both George H. Brooke and Arthur Knipe made the All- 
American in 1894, along with C. S. Gelbert, who also played end. 
He is the father of Charley Gelbert, the big league shortstop. 

Gelbert was regarded as the miracle man of his day. He never 
weighed over 160 pounds and was a deadly tackier, a superb 
leader of interference and was impressive because he wore a long, 
wavy, blonde moustache and a leonine mane of tawny hair. 

George Brooke, twice All- American, was only nineteen when he 
was selected as an All-American in 1894. Brooke developed in his 
punting a long, low spiral that was hard for the opposition to 
handle and easy for the ends to charge down the field. 

When you go back as far as the 80's in football, you are deal- 
ing with almost a different game. The rules were different, the ball 
was different, the uniforms were different — everything was differ- 
ent. Old pictures of E. A. Poe show him holding a ball that is 
almost like a soccer ball. 

The reason I specify Princeton's backfield of 1889 as the best 
of the period from 1885 to 1890 is that three of the men in it — 
Edgar Allan Poe, R. H. Channing and Knowlton L. "Snake" 
Ames — were picked on the first All-American team in 1889. R. H. 
Channing was a fine running back, Poe was a fiery little leader, and 
Ames was an outstanding punter and deceptive runner. J. S. Black 
probably was left off the All-American that year in favor of Lee 
of Harvard only because the selector didn't want to appear too 
partial! This backfield slaughtered Harvard 41 to 15, and also 
beat Yale 110 to when Yale had such men as Stagg, Heffelfinger, 
Gill and McClung. 

BaSKettall or Court Game? 

April, 19U 

You would think that basketball coaches must realize that 
basketball is a big-time sport. For years they have been 
citing indisputable statistics demonstrating that basketball 
is the most popular game in the world both in the number of par- 
ticipants and spectators. But too many of the coaches do not 
realize that basketball is big-time. 

In football, the gridiron and goalposts have standard dimen- 
sions. Teams can use practically the same strategy on any field. 
They may change their attack and defense according to the op- 
position they meet. But they won't adopt a five-man line, or a 
seven-diamond defense because the field is forty yards wide in 
Chicago, for example, and sixty yards wide in Chattanooga. 
Briefly, tactics are determined by the make-up of the opposing 
team, not by size and shape of its playing area. 

But in this respect, basketball is still small-time. It is possible, 
according to basketball's governing code, to play on a court vary- 
ing anywhere between sixty feet and ninety-four feet in length, 
and thirty-five feet and fifty feet in width. Throughout the coun- 
try there are many courts which vary in size and shape from one 
extreme to the other. And that's bad — because quite often it's the 
court, rather than the ability of the opposing teams, which decides 
the outcome of a basketball game. 

Even a casual student of basketball knows that the size of the 
court determines the type of strategy, and even the personnel, used 
by a team. A long, wide court favors a squad using a fast-break 
on the attack. On the defense, a long, wide court makes it more 
difficult to use a zone defense successfully against an accurate 
shooting and ball-handling team. On a large court, the coach uses 
players who have plenty of straightaway speed and stamina. 

On a smaller court, the defense can employ a zone defense with 


138 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

infinitely greater chances of success. On the attack, a team must be 
more resourceful. The players used by the coach must be better 
ball-handlers, have faster reflexes, must be quicker thinkers, and 
have to be shiftier afoot. In this game, a 100-yard dash champ 
must have something besides speed to be a star. 

Obviously, then, the size of the court is a very important factor 
in determining the outcome of any single game. Teams trained on 
one type of court are at a great disadvantage on another. 

Last winter, Bruce Drake, coach of the University of Oklahoma 
quintet which played Fordham and Temple on a trip to the East- 
ern seaboard, was quoted as saying when he got back to Oklahoma, 
"We had a swell time and were treated royally. But we found our 
game totally unfit for the small 84-foot court we had to play on at 
Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden." (The italics are mine.) 
Note that what Drake calls "small," Eastern coaches think of as 

Taking the other side of the case. My team some seasons ago 
left Eastern territory on one of its trips. Before the game my 
boys went out to test the lighting of the court and resilience of the 
backboard, to take a few practice shots and a warm-up. When the 
team captain saw the 94-foot court, he stared in bewilderment. 
"What's this going to be, a basketball game or a track meet?" he 
wanted to know. 

I am not saying that I am right and that Drake is wrong. 
Far from it. What I should like to see is a situation where a boy 
on the Pacific coast and a boy in the East, talking about basket- 
ball, are referring to the same game. Opponents in intersectional 
contests are not playing the same sport. What the spectators want, 
and what most of us coaches want, is a game in which the team that 
plays the better basketball wins. 

The "home" team has enough of an advantage in its familiarity 
with the lighting, the resiliency of the backboards, and the crowd. 
Yet under the present code we often have games which are virtually 
started, not with the score "Home team" — 0; "Visitors" — 0, but 
"Home Team" — 10; "Visitors" — 0. In a game between teams 
closely-matched in basketball ability, the court decides the issue. 
That is the reason why so many colleges have miraculous records at 
home, and are disappointments on the road. 

Are we playing a game in which the better basketball team 

Basketball or Court Game? 139 

wins? Or are we going to let the court decide the result of a con- 
test? Basketball or court game? Which shall it be? 

I vote for basketball. 

But that's not all ; far from it. This lack of standardization in 

"the governing code is a temptation to coaches. By using equipment 

which is optional, but not used by opponents, the "home" team gets 

an even greater advantage, and again it is the court rather than 

the basketball displayed which decides the game's outcome. 

For instance, this year it has been made optional to use, instead 
of the rectangular bank which has been standard for years, a 
peculiarly-curved backboard. Streamlining, its proponents call it. 
It makes the game more interesting, they say. Improves it. Doesn't 
block so much of the view of spectators seated behind the back- 

Maybe so. But if that is the only reason for urging the adop- 
tion of these alterations why do we see advertisements in certain 
athletic journals read by coaches and graduate managers which 
make no bones about the unfairness to your opponent by installing 

"Teams without benefit of practice with the new equipment will 
be 'blitzkrieged'," says one advertisement. And it continues, "Teams 
winning basketball laurels this season will be teams which have mas- 
tered the new 'fan-shaped bank' style of game. ... A smaller 
target of different shape, the new bank will 'muddle' many a team 
unfamiliar with it. It completely 'junks' the game as played with 
the old rectangular banks." 

These pernicious tendencies must be crushed if basketball is 
to continue its growth. It is true that some of these people who pro- 
pose optional equipment sincerely desire to improve the game. But, 
as this advertisement bears incontrovertible witness, too many of 
these opponents of standardization want to get some unfair ad- 

This business of visibility for spectators behind the court 
doesn't bear close scrutiny. Most major courts have already in- 
stalled glass backboards, which give considerably more visibility 
than the streamlined monstrosities. With the fan-shaped thingum- 
bob you can't see the ball as it passes through the basket, anyway, 
but with a glass bank you can see the entire court at all times. 

And that's not all. Still another option makes it permissible to 
use a seamless ball. Teams composed of athletes who, for years have 

140 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

been playing with the usual balls with seams, are suddenly forced 
to participate in a game in which they must use a seamless ball. 
I'm not talking about laces, now, but about the seams. These boys 
must instantaneously learn a new technique of gripping that ball 
for passing, shooting, or dribbling. In brief they must learn new 
fundamentals ; and when you must learn new fundamentals, you're 
not playing the same game. Obviously such a contest is no test of 
the relative basketball talent of the opposing quintets. 

Nor am I conjuring up a hypothetical case. Several of my New 
York colleagues have run into just this situation when playing out- 
of-town. The only reason they haven't publicly yelled bloody mur- 
der is that they have been around too long to bother with alibis. 

There are other categories of small-timers who oppose standard- 
ization. The publicity-seekers, for instance. They propose some- 
thing optional and get their names in the paper. Nor am I alone 
in objecting to this type of individual as a perusal of the basket- 
ball columns of last winter's New York Herald Tribune will amply 

Basketball has developed considerably since Dr. Naismith hung 
his peach baskets in the Springfield gymnasium. But if the game 
is to continue its present rate of growth, standardization should be 
included in the rule booh. After many years we now have some- 
thing approaching a uniform interpretation of the rules throughout 
the country. It's ridiculous not to have the rules themselves provide 
for a uniform game. 

In baseball, football, tennis, etc., the court has the same di- 
mensions anywhere in the world. Materials of construction may 
differ, but a pitcher's mound is always the same distance from 
home plate, the quarterback always has the same distance from the 
sidelines to maneuver in, a good tennis server will "ace" his rivals 
at Kalamazoo or Wimbledon. Let's have a game called basketball 
played the same way and demanding the same skills of its players 
throughout the world. 

Now, don't get the impression that I'm opposed to change and 
am a hidebound conservative. Anyone who has watched my City 
College teams play will testify that our tactics are' continually 
being altered so as to outwit the opposition. There can be no doubt 
that, in the matter of basketball strategy, I'm a progressive. 

Nor am I one who believes that Dr. Naismith got his inspira- 
tion from Mount Sinai and that the rules, therefore, should not be 

Basketball or Court Game? 141 

amended. Those who know anything about basketball legislation 
of the past few years are aware that I have been in the front rank 
battling for certain rule changes. I am definitely not opposed to 
experimentation with the rules. 

But on two tenets, I do not yield. First: if changes are made, 
they should apply to all equally — standardization. Second : changes 
should be designed to correct specific minor ills, but the essential 
character of the sport should not be changed. In short, let us all 
play basketball! 

Let's have the ball as it always has been — with seams. By taking 
away the seams, you make it almost impossible to attain the finger- 
tip control so necessary in basketball fundamentals and you nullify 
skillful shooting, clever passing and tricky dribbling. You replace 
basketball with a game of running and jumping. All you have to 
do is throw the ball down the court, and get a teammate to catch 
up with it. He heaves it at the backboard — it doesn't have to be too 
near the basket — and then your bouncing bean poles keep tapping 
at the backboard until they finally get the ball in the basket. Per- 
sonally, I think volleyball is a good game for people who like to 
see tapping. Basketball is supposed to be a game requiring skillful 
passing, shooting and dribbling. So let's not replace the seamed 

As for the backboards, there is a movement afoot to make them 
convex. First, it was made optional to enlarge the courts so that the 
ends were beyond the basket. Now, it seems, there is not enough 
room on the court from which to shoot, these reformers claim. By 
making the bank convex, it will be possible to shoot at the basket 
from the corners of the court. 

A logical extension of this idea would be to remove the back- 
board entirely. Then it would be possible to shoot a goal from be- 
hind the basket, which wouldn't be possible with the convex bank. 
But they don't want that. Taking the backboard away would in- 
crease the opportunities for shooting, but because it would also 
place a greater premium on accuracy, they don't want it. It's much 
easier to change a rule than to teach good basketball. 

Now, according to theory, I would benefit by a bankless game 
because I get comparatively undersized material, and because as 
a professional, I actually played that type of game for many years. 
But, I say, for the game's sake let's forget about fan-shaped, con- 

142 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

vex and any other nightmares. Let's continue with the same rec- 
tangular backboard which hasn't seemed to hurt the game 'til now. 

The main argument for a fanshaped bank is that for little ex- 
pense you can seat more spectators behind the backboards. But 
if a team is drawing so many spectators that they can't get enough 
of them in the gym without having to seat them behind the bas- 
kets, it seems obvious that they can afford glass backboards. These, 
in turn, will further enlarge the seating capacity and will soon pay 
for themselves. 

As for the dimensions of the court, I suggest an area between 
eighty or eighty-five feet by fifty feet. Such a court places em- 
phasis on basketball skill without making endurance and sprinting 
ability — important in any game — the decisive factors. Personally, 
I might like to see the smaller length adopted. But in a poll con- 
ducted by Ned Irish, Madison Square Garden basketball director, 
coaches of all metropolitan teams strongly opposed any increase in 
the size of the Garden's court, and expressed their approval of the 
Garden's eighty-four foot layout. These men have traveled through- 
out the country and annually turn out teams which play thor- 
oughly representative schedules. As much as anyone in the game, 
they should know what shape court is the best test of basketball 

In addition, two important practical considerations enter, which 
make it unwise to standardize the basketball court to a size greater 
than the Garden's. First: many high schools, churches, "Y's", etc., 
haven't got the room for courts even as large as the Garden's, let 
alone roomier ones. If an acre-size court is made standard, games 
played in these community centers would be regarded relatively 
as ping-pong to tennis. Are the teams fortunate enough to have 
roomy playing-surfaces to be the only ones allowed to play basket- 
ball? What about those who can't get to a large court? Can't they 
play basketball? 

Finally, and most important. Spectator interest supports in- 
tersectional contests and has put basketball in the big-time. By 
their enthusiastic support of the game at Madison Square Garden, 
hundreds of thousands of fans have voted their satisfaction with 
the game as it is played there. These crowds do not assemble four 
or six times a year. They come back for as many as eighteen games 
per season — and pay fancy prices. 

Basketball or Court Game? 143 

It is the customers who have made basketball a big-time sport. 
The customer is always right. He who pays the piper, calls the tune. 
Something ought to be done about the lack of standardization in 
basketball. It's the most important problem now facing the game. 

Parallel Skiing vs. Stem 


January, 19^3 

o you want to learn how to ski? Step right up, folks, and 
make your choice. You can have the new "Parallel Tech- 
nique," as advocated by Fritz Loosli, being the latest and 
much ballyhooed attempt to compete with Madame La Zonga's 
famous six lessons; or you can have the "old-fashioned" Arlberg- 
Technique, some twenty-five years old and still holding up its 
world-wide reputation. 

As per advertisement Loosli needs a minimum of at least eight 
days to make a parallel skier from a dub. I must admit it takes us 
from the old school considerably longer to come anywhere near this 

Loosli claims that his is a simplified method of instruction, 
streamlined and quick; that he surged ahead from where the im- 
mortals of skiing, Hannes Schneider and Arnold Lunn, left off. 
In short, it is the "parallel technique." He is modest enough though 
not to proclaim himself Messiah of an entirely new technique, for 
he is well aware that any skier halfway familiar with the subject 
knows that there is hardly anything new or revolutionary about 
this "parallel technique." In fact, it is as old as skiing itself since 
it rose to become a most popular sport from a plain medium of 

Loosli's method takes us right back where we started many 
decades ago, for that was the gospel which the first Scandinavian 
skiers brought to the Alpine countries, Austria and Switzerland. 
No one with a little sense and knowledge of the history of skiing 
will dispute that these two countries are the originators of modern 
skiing, whether you call it Alpine- or Arlberg-Technique. Yes, they 
are responsible and to be credited, not blamed, for all this Stem- 
ming, Snowp lowing and such. But why did they do it? Certainly 


Parallel Skiing vs. Stem 145 

not just to antagonize these first pioneers from the motherlands 
of skiing who skied with their skis held tightly together. 

To ski in Norway, Sweden or Finland consisted mostly in 
cross-country running and touring over gently rolling terrain. To 
ski in Alpine territory with its steeply pitched slopes was another 
matter. Thus, the beginning of this modern skiing technique, 
adapted to the most trying of circumstances, was evidently not in- 
vented by the urge to make matters more difficult and complicated. 
On the contrary, it was created by necessity and to master the new 
and yet untraveled slopes of those Alpine giants in the simplest 
and most efficient manner. This gradually led to the Stem tech- 
nique, which has had an "unparalleled" success and still is the 
technique used by our champion skiers. 

The standard of a skiing technique in any district where skiing 
is a popular sport shows a direct relationship to the terrain and 
prevailing snow conditions. In other words, the easier the terrain 
the less technique will be necessary in coping with the hazards. 
On the other hand, the more difficult the terrain, the steeper the 
slopes and the deeper and more varied the snow, a more highly 
developed skiing technique will be obligatory and most likely found 
as a natural evolution. 

To ski at Lac Beauport where Loosli teachers his Parallel 
Technique is one thing. But to ski down the reputed Taft Trail, or 
the Headwall at Tuckerman's, or to run Warmsprings, or the 
Diamond Sun Standard Course on Mt. Baldy at Sun Valley with 
a vertical drop of a mere thirty-one hundred feet for two miles 
in total length — that is another matter. 

I doubt if you would get very far on these runs with your so- 
called Parallel Christiania even if it seemed to function deceiv- 
ingly well at Lac Beauport or skiing around the seventh fairway of 
your country club. Ah, but those hills must have been packed and 
polished smooth, just right and not too steep. As a matter of fact, 
to ski on such a surface as these slopes all you would need is a little 
better than average athletic ability, enough courage to accumulate 
a certain amount of speed and a good sense of balance. In that 
case why bother with any instruction at all. 

Basically, the art of skiing is equivalent to the mastery of a 
repertory of turns adapted to various pitches, changes in snow 
conditions, and, above all, to varying speeds. It is the turn which 
controls the speed, but the rate of speed governs the type of turn. 

146 Esquire's First Sports Reader - 

The ability to judge properly and to apply these various maneu- 
vers stands for control — and control is the essence of skiing. The 
ideal solution to this problem would be the creation of one type 
of turn only; that one turn to replace all others under every 
imaginable circumstance. The idea, of course, is not novel. It has 
been tried repeatedly and advocated vigorously during the past 
years. There were vogues and rages in the ski world favoring one 
turn or another from the Open Christiania and Telemark to the 
Jump Turn and Parallel Christiania. After each rage, it was the 
Stem Turn and Stem Christiania always coming out on top again. 

In spite of the diversified schools of thought, ski experts share 
at least a few doctrines and principles. One is the essential require- 
ment of "leaning forward" while in motion on skis, better known 
as "Vorlage." Another, that the power which makes the skis turn 
is the result of the simple process of transferring the weight at a 
given moment. They furthermore agree that with increasing speed 
(within reasonable bounds!) and augmented "Vorlage," turning be- 
comes comparatively easier. 

But alas, these are exactly the most difficult factors for the 
novice — speed and the necessity to project the body forward. Some 
beginners adjust themselves readily to speed, others shy from it 
and lose control. 

It will be a relief for any novice to know that there are actually 
only four possible ways to make a pair of skis turn. As long as 
both skis are equally weighted and lined up parallel they will run 
straight and usually remain so. 

Very often a skier encounters a slope too steep and too long to 
be taken straight. He is forced to check and to control his forward 
motion by making turns, linking each turn by a traverse at a 
chosen angle, depending on the rate of speed at which the skier 
wishes to propel himself. 

If the parallel position of the skis is abandoned and one of 
them or both put at an angle, diverging or converging, either tips 
or ends together, and one of the skis is weighted more than the 
other, the skier will deviate to one side. In this way one's ski acts 
almost like the rudder of a ship. Turns of this type are classified 
as "steered turns." They are the Snowplow turn, Stem turn, Tele- 
mark and Open Christiania. 

" It is also possible to unweight both skis simultaneously by a 
pronounced up and down motion of the body, at the same time rota- 

Parallel Skiing vs. Stem 147 

ting the skis by a powerful and accurately timed swing toward the 
desired point. Here we deal with "swing turns," better known as 
Christianias. Their primary requirement is speed. 

One can also change the direction of the skis by simply stepping 
around, lifting one separately off the ground and placing it side- 
ways, then following with the other. This type of turn works on 
a gentle hill or flat run-out, but is useless on steep slopes. 

There remains the Jump Turn, in which both skis are taken 
off the snow simultaneously and while in mid-air switched around. 
Usually a Jump Turn covers an angle of approximately ninety 
degrees, switching the skis from one traverse into the opposite di- 
rection. The Jump Turn, although quite valuable at times, such as 
on the worst kind of breakable crust, is not considered a part of 
the teaching curriculum of a ski school. It should be, however — 
especially in the advanced classes — for it is an excellent exercise to 
develop courage, spring and correct timing. 

Thus the scope of turns with which a skier operates is limited 
to the two groups : the steered turns and the swings, with the var- 
ious and practically unlimited combinations of the two. 

Hannes Schneider, who made the Arlberg-Technique an in- 
stitution, chose the Snowplow turn as the foundation of his teach- 
ing system. This turn not only enables the beginner to make a 
series of linked turns practically from the first day, but at a rate 
of speed which he can handle with confidence. Furthermore, all the 
movements which the beginner will later employ in his higher speed 
turns are incorporated in the Snowplow turn. The novice will learn 
to transfer his weight; he will soon feel the rhythm by using his 
shoulders extensively. Great emphasis is laid upon giving the pupil 
an understanding of the "forward lean" and the delicate function 
of the steel edges. 

From then on the pupil is gradually accustomed to speed and 
the effects of centrifugal force and momentum. The goal in mind 
is to lead the pupil as rapidly as possible, but with safety, toward 
the Stem Christiania. 

There is no reason why a pupil who started with the Snowplow, 
advanced to the Stem and Stem Christiania should not be able 
gradually to make his turns longer by increasing his forward lean 
and speed. The original pronounced Snowplow position will di- 
minish and disappear more and more until almost automatically 
the Stem Christiania begins to flow into a Parallel Christiania. 

148 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

The opponents of the Arlberg-Technique, particularly Loosli, 
claim that the Snowplow turn is detrimental to a rapid progress of 
the novice skier; that it becomes a habit for him to fall back into 
the Snowplow position at the slightest provocation, and that it 
is dangerous. 

So Loosli starts his pupil off with a turn from the traversing 
position in towards the slope with a pronounced "backward lean," 
one ski out in front and the weight on the heels. This is Fritz 
Loosli's elementary turn, the Open Christiania. But, he expounds, 
it is not the prehistoric Open Christiania, for in his elementary turn 
the weight is on the lower ski. That may be so, but the fact re- 
mains that the turn is begun by diverging the skis ; in other words, 
by spreading the ski tips. 

If Mr. Loosli can prove that the Snowplow is a dangerous ma- 
neuver, I can only reply that his "Open Christiania" as an elemen- 
tary turn for a novice is equally dangerous, if not considerably 
more. Presuming that a beginner does takes a fall in the Snowplow 
position, his skis may cross but his legs will be pushed together. 
On the other hand, in the so-called split the legs fly apart. 

It should be of interest to the reader to know that even such 
nationally known and outstanding competitive skiers as Dick Dur- 
rance and Alf Engen, to mention only two, revert instinctively to 
the Snowplow when the occasion calls for it. 

According to an enthusiastic description about a year ago, 
written by one of Loosli's most ardent boosters, this is what hap- 
pens when a novice enrolls at Lac Beauport Ski School. He is 
rushed through the rudimentary exercises, including a few straight 
runs, doing various motions to improve stability and balance, but 
mostly "bobbing" up and down. This, of course, every ski school 
does, only other schools spend considerably more time with these 
all-important preliminary fundamentals. Not so Seiior Loosli, who 
discards them as an excessive waste of time. Pretty soon the pupils 
are ready for the first turn, and I quote from that article: 

"As the pupils came out of their crouch, just at the moment 
when they reached the apex of one of the up movements, Fritz 
shouted at the top of his voice, 'turn.' Turn they did, the most 
surprised bunch of turners one ever saw." 

I don't blame them. I, too, would be very surprised. 

"That turn," Loosli said, "those beginners make on their first 

Parallel Skiing vs. Stem 149 

day out is so simple — so simple I often wonder why I did not think 
of it before." 

The great difficulty in making a turn of this type with any 
semblance of ease and grace is the primary requisite of more speed 
than the average student is capable of handling. The most serious 
drawback, however, and where Loosli commits a fatal blunder, is 
that he is not concerned with the "forward lean" at all, perhaps the 
most difficult element to pound into a pupil. Not only that, but 
Loosli purposely caters to the student's natural instinct to lean 
backwards; whereas later in the more advanced stages he expects 
the pupil suddenly to lean forward. 

Then he goes on: "When the pupil has the down-up motion 
mastered and when he is loose and at home on the skis (this all the 
first day out on skis, mind you! O.L.) I bring in the shoulder 
swing." Here again Loosli instructs the pupil first to use the for- 
ward shoulder swing in the elementary turn as a helpful medium 
to facilitate the turn. But later on in his Christiania at higher speed 
he will demand from the same student a reverse shoulder action, in- 
stead of the previously emphasized forward motion, which is ex- 
actly the contrary of what he was taught at first. 

But supposing the novice does eventually learn to make this 
elementary Open Christiania of Loosli's in towards the slope. What 
of it? He is still pointing with his skis in the direction he came 
from, and the object of a turn is evidently to change the skis into, 
or towards, the opposite direction. I presume that is where Mr. 
Loosli and his pupils "revert" to the kick turn as a most valuable 
help and necessity. That, undoubtedly, is a possibility and a way 
out of a dilemma. But is it satisfactory and practical? 

Or does Loosli really want to convince u^ that he can make a 
novice skier steer his skis from a traverse into the direct line of 
descent, pick up speed faster than he can reach for his hat and 
then turn left and right in a series of Christianias? 

In his recently published book Loosli exclaims that "ski schools 
have done nothing to influence racing technique but racing tech- 
nique is crying for a change in the methods of the ski schools. 
Standardized ski instruction in short has done very little to keep 
up with the pace set by the competitive sport." 

So far so good, but in an article in Shi News of January 9, 
1942, in which Loosli defends himself against the violent attacks 
of a Swiss ski instructor he writes . differently and as follows : 

150 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

"What makes you think we're trying to build racers? I am not 
interested in racers. They prove nothing about recreational tech- 
nique. I am merely enjoying success in teaching average skiers to 
find new pleasures in the sport." 

Of course, one of the very popular false beliefs is that a racing 
technique with its razor-sharp finesse can be just as well applied 
in teaching novice skiers. This mistaken conception as to how 
skiing should be taught has been made by many a famous racer. 

Emile Allais, for example, the French ace skier and one time 
world champion with an altogether enviable racing record, pub- 
lished a book some years ago which burst like a bombshell. But he 
still has to prove his merits as a pedagogue and he still has to show 
us the results of his method. In it he, too, advocated omitting a 
number of preliminary and fundamental turns, unnecessary in his 
opinion — in particular, the Stem turn and Stem Christiania. Allais' 
final hypothesis is the "Pure Christiania" or "Tempo Turn," a 
typical racing turn at high speed, with extreme forward lean and 
the weight of the body pressing onto the ski tip. The up and down 
movement is not very pronounced, but the forward shoulder swing 
is a vital part of this characteristic racing turn. 

Allais' technique was tailored after his own individual success as 
a competitor, unusually gifted by nature and tutored by the finest 
pre-war European coaches. In spite of his radical ideas he could 
not and did not attempt to rid himself of that one fundamental 
maneuver, the Snowplow. 

From the latest reports heard before war-torn Europe's con- 
nections with the outside world were completely severed, Allais 
seems, to have considerably revised and modified his original teach- 
ing method. He has even taken to acquaint his pupils with the Stem 
turn and Stem Christiania before attempting to teach them the 
Pure Christianias. 

His method could offer possibilities with exceptionally gifted 
and chosen physical specimens, but would certainly not work out 
with beginners, children or women. It is an entirely different prop- 
osition to train aspiring racers. For a racer, speed and control are 
most important — whereas for the recreational skier it is safety and 

The expert and competitive skier uses almost exclusively a 
scale of varied Christianias, from the Stem Christiania to the Pure 
Christiania. As he usually makes these turns at high speed they 

Parallel Skiing vs. Stem 151 

have an appearance of ease, simplicity and dash. But the one ele- 
ment which makes the Christiania so easy to execute for the expert 
skier is speed. Thus the expert's meat is the novice's poison — and a 
serious drawback, for his speed range is definitely limited. It surely 
would be a waste of time to wait until he has acquired enough con- 
fidence and skill without teaching him other turns as a substitute 
for the time being. 

Now with the United States at war skiing as a branch of mili- 
tary warfare suddenly has taken on importance. In the last World 
War mountain troops and skiers held key points and passes and 
the tops of mountains throughout winter and summer. That was 
Hannes Schneider's experimental laboratory. He had to train skiers 
in a hurry, and fellows who had never stood on skis before. 

Two winters ago the United States realized the imperative need 
of ski troops, with the vast snow-covered territory of Alaska on her 
hands to protect; not to mention the possibility of sending an ex- 
peditionary force abroad. There was no ski unit to speak of in the 
United States Armed Forces until two winters ago. That meant 
starting from scratch, not only to train the men but to decide on 
the best equipment, such as clothes, skis, poles, boots, etc. 

But there was also the question of a technique, making it pos- 
sible to train thousands and thousands of soldier skiers uniformly. 
I have no doubt that military authorities from the War Depart- 
ment, advised by experts and leading personalities of the sport 
in this country, thoroughly investigated every possible method. 
They were undoubtedly after a technique to train men efficiently 
and in as short a time as possible. 

Was there ever a better chance or a more golden opportunity 
for the promoters of "Parallel Technique" to step into the pic- 
ture? It was not even considered, and the Army's training manual 
closely follows the Arlberg method as advocated by Hannes 
Schneider. This fact alone, proves, more than all the written words, 
the soundness of the Stem Technique. 

In Derence or Parallel Skiing 


March, 191^3 

nother ski season is upon us, it would seem, the very pro- 
fusion and confusion of the falling snow rivalled only by 
the arguments — once more — of my antagonists, who appar- 
ently would attempt to disprove on paper what I am proving 
conclusively on snow — namely, that you don't have to be a con- 
tortionist to ski. I have reference, of course, to the most recent 
attack authored by Otto Lang, upon my system of Parallel 
Skiing. Will any friends of Mr. Lang who are reading this kindly 
advise him to be ready to duck? He asked for it, and here it comes! 

"Loosli's method," wrote O.L., "takes us right back where we 
started many decades ago, for that was the gospel which the first 
Scandinavian" skiers brought to the Alpine countries, Austria and 
Switzerland." Sure, I know it's silly. But that's what he wrote. 

In the first place, O.L., "the gospel which the first Scandina- 
vian skiers brought to the Alpine countries" was not a method of 
controlled skiing. They skied with their skis locked closely together, 
their bodies in an upright position, and when they wished to change 
direction they jumped or fell around. What, may I ask, has that 
in common with Parallel Skiing? 

Mr. Lang's point seems to be to attempt to link my method 
with the methodless skiing of thirty years ago. 

Parallel Skiing is very definitely a method of ski instruction — 
a method founded upon proved principles. After dozens of years of 
observing and instructing skiers and after many hours of studying 
the actions of experts through the medium of slow-motion movies, 
I have succeeded in breaking these actions down into three different 
phases. The first phase involves the work of the skis only, the sec- 
ond has to do with the action of the knees and the third involves 
the part the shoulders play in the turn. Each movement is so defi- 
nite that a beginner can be taught to master one at a time — and 


In Defence op Parallel Skiing 153 

by thus simplifying ski instruction I am able to combine, in a short 
time, these separate phases into the finished turn. 

In teaching the work of the skis, only I — as most skiers know by 
now — have eliminated the Snowplow turn. I, too, taught the Snow- 
plow for many years, accepting it as a safety device affording the 
skier a means of putting on the brakes, so to speak, until he could 
become more proficient. Quite some time ago, however, I realized 
that the Snowplow was more a detriment than an asset — that it was 
teaching the skier many things he would have to forget to reach 
the later stages of skiing perfection. I noted, moreover, that only 
a very small percentage of skiers is ever able to forget these ham- 
pering movements of the Snowplow, as is evidenced on any open 
slope, where less than ten per cent of the skiers will be seen to be 
skiing completely free of the triangular entanglements of the Plow. 
What greater proof of the fallacy of teaching the Snowplow could 
one ask for? 

In place of the Snowplow — to give the beginner a safety device 
which will allow him to turn — I teach a Modified Open Christiania 
turn. In making a right turn, for instance, the skier is taught to 
place his weight on the left ski, to advance the right ski, opening 
the tip slightly and exerting a little pressure on the uphill edge. 
Soon he is brought to the point where he no longer has to open the 
tip as he advances the ski slightly and continues to edge it a bit. 
This is the Pure Christiania, even as advocated by Mr. Lang — the 
skier, by my method, having reached it by progressing through 
simple and related phases. 

"To ski at Lac Beauport where Loosli teaches his Parallel 
Technique is one thing," wrote O.L., "but to ski down the reputed 
Taft Trail, or the Headwall at Tuckerman's, or to run Warm- 
springs, or the Diamond Sun Standard Course on Mt. Baldy at 
Sun Valley with a vertical drop of a mere thirty-one hundred feet 
for two miles in total length — that is another matter." 

I will agree with Mr. Lang there. It certainly is another mat- 
ter. Is Mr. Lang, however, advocating that people be taught to ski 
on the trails he has mentioned? 

It has always been my contention that the place to teach people 
to swim is not in the surf but in relatively shallow, quiet water. 
Thus it is with skiing — and thus at the Chateau Frontenac we take 
our guests out to Lac Beauport where, as Mr. Lang said, "the 
slopes are just right." 

154 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

"As a matter of fact," he went on, "to ski on such a surface 
as these slopes all you would need is a little better than average 
athletic ability, enough courage to accumulate a certain amount 
of speed and a good sense of balance. In that case why bother with 
any instruction at all." 

That is precisely the point. My system has been designed for 
persons of average athletic ability, average courage and an aver- 
age sense of balance. Too long have ski experts failed to recognize 
physical limitations affecting most people taking up the sport. It 
is my conviction that skiing should be — and can be — made simple 
for all. 

At Lac Beauport the beginner is made to feel completely at 
ease on his skis on a slope that will assist, rather than hinder, him 
as he learns. When he has mastered this slope he is taken on increas- 
ingly more difficult terrain until he is able to run any ski trail 
that is wide enough to permit him to swing. If it isn't that wide 
it isn't a ski trail and no one on skis, seeking recreation solely, be- 
longs on it. Mr. Lang will have to admit that more than seventy- 
five per cent of the skiers on the North American continent do 
their skiing on open slopes. Why not fit them, primarily, for the 
type of skiing in which they will participate most often? Once 
they master slope skiing it is a simple matter to teach trail running 

I have already differed with Mr. Lang in his contention that 
as his system progresses "the original pronounced Snowplow posi- 
tion will diminish and disappear more and more until almost 
automatically the Stem Christiania begins to flow into a Parallel 
Christiania." I have cited as evidence the distressing scene on any 
open slope. Now I should like to differ on another point. 

"The novice will learn to transfer his weight; he will soon feel 
the rhythm by using his shoulders extensively," wrote O.L. "Great 
emphasis is laid upon giving the pupil an understanding of the 
'forward lean' and the delicate function of the steel edges." May 
I make a suggestion to all advocates of the Snowplow system? 
Never use the word "delicate." The very name, "Snowplow" — 
drawing up a picture, as it does, of a ten-ton truck with a wedge 
of steel fastened on the fore — belies the contention that there is 
anything at all delicate about the maneuver. 

"It should be of interest to the reader to know," Mr. Lang con- 
tinued, "that even such nationally known and outstanding com- 

In Defence of Parallel Skiing 155 

petitive skiers as Dick Durrance and Alf Engen, to mention only 
two, revert instinctively to the Snowplow when the occasion calls 
for it." I should also like to thank him for that. It stresses a point 
I have been having difficulty getting across to my opponents. 

The point is, of course, that I have found it wholly unnecessary 
and unwise to spend days, yes, even weeks, teaching pupils the 
Snowplow. In explanation I offer the following quote from my 
book, referred to by Mr. Lang: 

"I have eliminated the Snowplow and the Stem simply because 
I, myself, believe that their advantages are more than overcome by 
their detrimental effect on the skier's balance and feeling for his 
skis. Actually I have no objection to the use of these maneuvers, 
although I believe they should not be taught in the development 
of the skier. As a matter of fact, there are occasions, on a narrow 
trail, for instance, when the ability to Snowplow or Stem is of 
great advantage — but in this respect I must say that I have found 
my pupils, now fully acquainted with the action of their skis, in- 
stinctively employing these maneuvers without being taught. They 
have been spared the pain." 

In support of this I might add that many times in the past 
two years I, or my assistants, have taken advanced classes on ex- 
ceedingly difficult terrain, steep and full of hummocks and rises 
capable of testing even the best skier's ability. Running them down 
over this treacherous hillside we have observed slightly different 
reactions, with the exception that none used the Snowplow until 
he or she found it absolutely necessary. Those pupils that had used 
the Snowplow before coming to me did revert to it again when 
the occasion demanded. More revealing, however, was the observa- 
tion that even those who had never been taught the maneuver now 
and then employed it instinctively, even if not so often. When we 
took all these pupils back on the easier, and more popular slope, 
we noted that they had left their Snowplows back on the tricky 
hummock-filled hill and were not reverting to them when they 
didn't need them. That proved again to us that the Snowplow does 
not have to be taught but will be picked up naturally. If taught 
at all — as some instructors may find necessary in a few isolated 
cases — it should certainly not be taught until the pupil has reached 
the advanced stage where he will employ it only when it is abso- 
lutely necessary. 

As Mr. Lang continued his attack upon my system he referred 

156 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

to an article about Parallel Skiing which appeared in the Febru- 
ary, 1941, issue of Esquire. This was an article written by Mr. W. 
C. Heinz, Ski Editor of The New York Sun, and I believe this is 
the article which started this whole tempest in the ski world over 
Parallel Skiing vs. Stem. At least it was the first lucid explanation 
of my system to be printed. In his attack Mr. Lang quotes the 
description found therein of how my elementary pupils make their 
first turn, the turn, according to the article, being based on the 
pupils' bobbing up and down and — at the moment when their skis 
were unweighted — turning at my command. 

Mr. Lang suggests that no one could make a turn employing 
those procedures alone and I agree with him. When Mr. Heinz 
first heard about my system and came to Quebec to gather informa- 
tion for the article, I demonstrated to him that the elementary turn 
was made with the Modified Open Christiania but I requested that 
he not bring out this point in his article. I simply felt that 
other instructors, hearing that I was using a form of the 
Open Christiania, a turn to which they have always objected, 
would not understand the modifications I had made in it to 
eliminate its faults. They would consequently criticize it unfairly 
before my system had a chance to prove itself. You must remem- 
ber that this was the first article, written while my system was 
still new. After I had proved my point over and over again, 
however, I readily acknowledged using the Modified Open Chris- 
tiania — explaining that in my adaptation of the turn, the weight 
is on the lower, not upper ski, while the upper ski is edged slightly. 
That is the turn the beginners learn on the first day ; it is the turn 
I have explained fully in my book. 

"The most serious drawback, however," wrote Mr.- Lang, turn- 
ing to his next point, "and where Loosli commits a fatal blunder, is 
that he is not concerned with the 'forward lean' at all, perhaps the 
most difficult element to pound into a pupil. Not only that, but 
Loosli purposely caters to the student's natural instinct to lean 
backwards; whereas later in the more advanced stages he expects 
the pupil suddenly to learn forward." 

Right here I would like to say that in our system we do not 
expect pupils suddenly to lean forward. After the pupil has been 
allowed to lean backward in the elementary turn, which actually 
facilitates the turn where only ski action is employed, he is urged 

In Defence of Parallel Skiing 15*7 

constantly to acquire more forward lean at the same time as lie is 
shown how. 

This point seems to me to be the crux of the whole Parallel 
Skiing vs. Stem argument. Is it, or is it not, wiser to sacrifice the 
small degree of forward lean the average pupil can be encouraged 
to employ in the Snowplow in order to eliminate the evils of the 
Snowplow completely? We, of course, think it is. 

I note that Mr. Lang said that the forward lean is "perhaps" 
the most difficult element to get across to the skier. Again I say that 
what can be seen on any open slope proves that by far the most 
difficult problem any instructor faces is to remove the parasitical 
remains of the Snowplow turn in teaching the more advanced ma- 
neuvers. Actually the pupil learns very little about forward lean 
in the Snowplow as he is pushing back constantly against the hill. 

When we have eliminated the Snowplow entirely we have more 
opportunity to dwell on forward lean — stressing that it can be 
acquired simply by pushing the knees forward and down and bend- 
ing from the ankles. We don't expect the pupil to acquire forward 
lean suddenly; we teach it to him gradually. 

Going on from there Mr. Lang then quoted from my book a 
passage in which I brought out the fact that standardized ski in- 
struction has done little to keep up with the pace set by competitive 
sport. Immediately following this he quoted from an article by 
me in Ski News of January, 1942, in which I explained that I am 
not interested in racers. The point in the book was simply brought 
out because advocates of the Arlberg system are constantly citing 
racers as examples, when actually ski schools have done nothing to 
influence racing techniques. The point in the article was stressed 
to emphasize that I am interested primarily in teaching average ski- 
ers to find pleasure in the sport. Both still hold true and I fail to 
see where they are contradictory. 

Continuing with Mr. Lang's criticism, I note that the next 
point he brings up for discussion is that of shoulder action. As he 
explains, in the early stages of instruction the Parallel Method 
advocates employing the usual forward shoulder action. In other 
words — in a left turn, the right or uphill shoulder is brought 
around to facilitate the turn. 

"But later on in his Christiania at higher speed he will demand 
from the same pupil a reverse shoulder action, instead of the 
previously emphasized forward motion, which is exactly the con- 

158 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

trary of what he was taught at first," 0. L. wrote. That is true, 
too, but it gives the wrong impression. By reverse shoulder action 
it is meant that in the left turn the left shoulder is moved forward 
with the left ski. This is done at very high speeds or on very hard 
surfaces to prevent the tails of the skis from swinging around too 
far as often happens when the forward shoulder action is employed. 
These two actions may sound difficult and contradictory as Mr. 
Lang refers to them but try this little test : 

Stride naturally across the room, swinging the right arm for- 
ward as you advance the left leg and the left arm forward with the 
right leg. That is forward shoulder action. Now stride across again 
swinging the left arm forward with the left leg and the right arm 
with the right leg. That is the principle of reverse shoulder action. 
It can be done as simply on snow as you have done it in the room, 
in spite of the fact that it sounds so "contrary" to Mr. Lang. 

Mr. Lang next posed the question of how we get novice skiers to 
steer their skis from a traverse into the direct line of descent. They 
are taught to do this either by bending the knees further forward, 
which will cause the ski tips to drop towards the fall line, or simply 
by advancing the ski nearest to the fall line, to initiate the turn in 
that direction. 

As he approached the end of his article, Mr. Lang then did 
something I had been awaiting from the start. He brought up the 
question of Emile Allais, a fine competitor in Europe but not as 
good a ski instructor by any means. 

Allais it was, in fact, who gave me the first idea for Parallel 
Skiing when he asserted he was abolishing the Stem Turn and the 
Stem Christiania before teaching the Pure Christiania. Allais, as 
you may know, was not successful. This may have been due to the 
fact that he may have lacked the qualities so necessary in an in- 
structor or it may have been because, as Mr. Lang points out, he 
did not rid himself of the Snowplow. 

But whatever the reasons, I fail to see where they fit the present 
subject of discussion — my own Parallel Technique. From Allais' 
failure I learned that the Snowplow must definitely be avoided. 

And now to Mr. Lang's final point which, apparently, he liked 
best of all. I like it, too. It is so easy to answer. Mr. Lang explains 
that comparatively recently the United States realized the impor- 
tance of ski troops and in organizing these troops selected a tech- 
nique of instruction for them which closely follows the Arlberg 

In Defence of Parallel Skiing 159 

method. I agree that that is very fortunate for I can think of no 
better method for military instruction than the Arlberg. For that 
purpose it is excellent but I somehow got the impression we were 
discussing methods of teaching recreational skiing, an entirely 
different subject. 

Military ski instruction is designed to prepare soldiers to ski, 
with heavy packs on their backs, over mountain passes and down 
trails that are no wider, in many cases, than foot paths. During 
troop movements much of this downhill skiing is done at exceed- 
ingly low speed so that the units will remain as close together as 
possible. The only semblance of similarity between this and recrea- 
tional skiing as we know it on this continent is that all participants 
in both wear skis. Of course the Snowplow is indispensable in mili- 
tary skiing. From the very start it teaches the pupil to hold back 
against the hill and to fight it. That, obviously, isn't what our 
recreational skiers should be taught. 

Belles of tLe Ball I 


June, 19 lt,0 

There is a person named Charley Dunkley. He is a sports 
writer for the Associated Press. Although he is a young- 
looking and vigorous man, Mr. Dunkley is reputed to have 
made his debut in sports journalism covering the regatta of the 
Pint a, Nina and Santa Maria in 1492. 

If you don't know Charley you can't amount to much in sports. 
The gentleman who had just recovered from delirium tremens and 
boasted that he had been everywhere and seen everything, traveled 
in Phantasy as Charley has in the meat. 

One evening when Charley was in a charming, stinking little 
saloon convalescing from fresh air poisoning contracted during his 
literary labors at an outdoor sports event, a bunch of the boys got 
telling about the greatest things they ever had seen in sports. It 
came Mr. Dunkley's turn. 

"I have seen 'em in thrilling performances of strength, skill 
and courage; Dempsey, Ruth, Tilden, Jones, Lenglen, Gotch, and 
numerous others. You think they had color?" Mr. Dunkley parked 
his beaker and paused for reply. None was forthcoming. Continued 
Mr. Dunkley. "They all are blacked out by lady Softball players. 
There is more color to those softball ladies than there is to a sky 
full of rainbows. 

"And let me tell you a young lady known jestingly to her inti- 
mates as Mangy Maggie was the most vivid of them all. I don't 
wish to reflect upon Mag socially because, maybe, I am not quali- 
fied to do so, and besides, her husband is a young gentleman who 
drives one of those trucks that looks like a fortress of the Maginot 
Line. He can hold the truck up with one hand and change one 
of its tires with his other paw. So what I say about Mag is said 
in reverence. 

"I was watching a game in which Mag was catching for a 


Belles of the Ball 161 

team that had not been favored in the morning line. The pitching 
of Maggie's team was supposed to be weak. This was Mag's first 
game with this team. 

"I never saw players, male or female, hardball or Softball, 
swing at so many wild ones. The reason was that Mag infuriated 
them. I saw that Mangy Maggie was no sissy and was very fond 
of stoking her maw full of Mail Pouch for a refreshing tidbit, but 
I never gave that matter much thought as not a few very able 
lady soft-ballers I have seen use the weed in liquid form. 

"But as I say, Maggie really was one apart from the whole 
race of athletes. She would squirt her chaw through the bars of 
her catcher's mask and write, in the dirt ahead of the plate, 'you 
stink,' just like a baker uses icing to write Happy Birthday on a 

"It is not possible for a highly strung lady softball player to 
keep her eye on the ball while tart criticism about her is being 
spelled out in mud at her feet. So Maggie's pitcher began throw- 
ing one and two hit games and would probably have gone through 
that opposition like a blitzkrieg, only Mag had words with her 
husband who was a man of few words. He slapped her in the puss 
and knocked out her bead teeth, after which she was unable to 
spell with jets and lost her witchery. Alas, and more alases." 

Mr. Dunkley put down his glass and excused himself to go 
out to report on evening of fisticuffs for the Associated Press 

When he was safely out of the hearing zone, one of the sur- 
vivors ventured the suspicion that Mr. Dunkley had been indulging 
in a flight of fancy, such as the A. P. sports chroniclers treat them- 
selves to when freed from the restrictions of their solemn profes- 
sional oath. 

However, as the evening wore on and notes were compared, 
Dunkley's tale became more credible. These girl softball players 
are a lot that are beginning their stories where the male athletes 
have left off. You may deplore the receding tide of color, the 
passing of the golden decade in sports, but if you do, your lament 
only sounds to prove that you are missing one of the most enter- 
taining show sports ever revealed. 

It was fifteen years ago that the Bloomer Girls of Chicago pre- 
sented the debut of girls' softball outdoors. In that period the 
game has grown to the extent that now there are more than 600,000 

162 EsauiRE's First Sports Reader 

young women playing softball, and the game has its bob-haired 
Ruths, Deans, Gehrigs and DiMaggios. Girls have graduated from 
softball teams into quite substantial salaries as minor executives 
of companies that employed them primarily as athletic advertise- 
ments. Girls have paid college tuition with the money they've earned 
playing softball — not, of course, out-and-out as softball players, 
for it is an amateur game and under conscientious control as strict 
as widespread amateur sport can be. The softball girls have gone 
into wedlock and traded their bats for skillets, their diamonds for 
didies. One of them, at least, has entered a convent. She is Miss 
Ann Harnett, a high school teacher who starred with the Rival 
Dog Food team which is one of the game's major clubs. 

So, while the supreme male may regard the lady softballers as 
freaks of nature who don't throw as though they were trying to 
escape from a strait- jacket, the ladies themselves have been build- 
ing a new sports attraction by glorifying feminine inconsistency in 
a muscular manner. It's guessed by those who ought to be able to 
call the shots fairly accurately, that about 90,000,000 Americans 
watched softball in 1939. Girls teams were the major attractions 
of this pastime that night lighting has helped to boom into popu- 
larity as neighborhood entertainment. 

The crowd appeal of the softballing males is merely that of 
baseballers scaled down to neighborhood dimensions, plus playing 
time that fits conveniently into the evening schedule of the citizen 
who enjoys having his dinner digest while seeing a living picture 
that has a plot subject to change without notice. Softball by the 
ladies has the assets of game time that meets the citizens' require- 
ments of evening relaxation and the sudden shifting of scripts by 
home runs or fumbles, but with a lot more. 

Women's softball has grown tremendously despite the com- 
paratively small amount of newspaper and radio plugging it has 
received. Its large city newspaper publicity has been received 
mainly as the result of promotions conducted by certain news- 
papers. When a paper plugs its own sports promotions the other 
papers in town ease up, and give affairs promoted by the competi- 
tion only minimum mention. 

A young lady who works for a neighborhood plow plant or 
dairy outdraws Hedy Lamarr or Ann Sheridan in many a com- 
munity where these females are competitively billed as entertain- 
ment. When the local young lady known as Butch, Spike or Mickey 

Belles of the Bale 168 

can do that, you may be sure that she appeals to fundamental 
instincts. Maybe the instincts are upside down and the cave girl 
is delighting her male by giving birth to a timely triple which 
the male considers he has sired by his loud cheers and advice. If 
that's the case, Softball's remarkable growth may be regarded by 
the deep thinkers as evidence supporting the belief of some patholo- 
gists and psychologists that the females are getting more and more 
masculine, and vice versa, each succeeding day. 

Cases of cryptorchism pop out every so often in the annals of 
female athletics. The Olympic games have included contestants 
whose performances have been notable when classified in the ladies' 
department, but who later have been subjected to surgical atten- 
tion with the result of disqualification on the grounds of being 
biologically suited for shaving brushes instead of powder puffs. 
It is the jealous nature of some males to suspect that lady soft- 
ballers who are males' superiors in throwing, catching, running and 
batting, enjoy such superiority because they possess other funda- 
mental male attributes not as much in evidence as skill on the 
tabloid diamond. 

That cheering delusion of the male is blasted by such female 
Softball stars as Catherine Fellmeth. Catherine is a high-browed, 
attractive young matron of about £8 years. As Mrs. Rutherford, 
she has Mr. Rutherford's meals well-cooked on time, gets their 
5-year-old youngster fed and put to bed, gets the dishes washed, 
then goes out to sparkle as a performer on a Chicago team that 
figures prominently each year in the national softball champion- 
ships. To keep her biceps in condition for sweeping, dusting, wield- 
ing the skillet, washing the dishes and the baby's things, Kitty adds 
to her softball exercise that of winning the Chicago women's bowl- 
ing championship, heaving the discus 113 feet 7% inches, and 
putting the shot 41 feet 1% inches; the latter two feats being per- 
formed at the 1939 national A.A.U. track and field championships, 
at which Kitty shared with Stella Walsh the glory of being the 
only double victor among the contestants. 

The mystery of the way of the maids with the men is further 
deepened upon examination of the case of Miss Dorothy Klupping, 
who emerges from women's national softball championships as the 
Dizzy Dean of that pastime. Miss Klupping, a pitcher for the 
Down Drafts of Chicago, is known to the softball opera lovers 
as Boots. She is a legitimate blonde, of a shade of hair that even 

164 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

her foes in the crucial struggles call "honey blonde." She is a bit 
over 5 feet high and when seen away from her strenuous employ- 
ment would not be recognized as a muscle moll. 

On the field Boots has a histrionic range from Baby Snooks 
to the Queen of the Amazons, with Charlotte Corday and La Pas- 
sionara, firebrand of the Spanish loyalists, tossed in for seasoning. 

Boots will walk into her team's dressing room before a game 
and still the nervous chatter of her compatriots by remarking, 
"them tramps ain't got a chance. They can't hit me." That, of 
course, is hearsay from her teammates, as this investigator has not 
been in the dressing room of a ladies' softball team. But what she 
does do before the naked eyes of the multitude is plenty to reveal 
performing color. 

She will receive the ball from an umpire. She will appraise it 
carefully, stitch by stitch ; read the printing on the cover ; toss the 
ball gently up as though testing its weight. Then, with an expres- 
sion of disdain, Boots will toss the ball over the park fence. 

Another ball will be tossed out. She will repeat her act. The 
manager of the opposing team will run onto the field yelling that 
Boots be tossed out of the game for contempt of court, lese majesty, 
spitting on the sidewalk, homicide and other charges managers make 
in women's softball games. 

Boots will look coy at the umpire and pout. "The very idea !" 
she'll protest. "Here I am just warming up and he wants to have 
me benched because I'm a bit wild. Make him get back minding 
his own business, Mr. Umpire, or maybe one of my wild ones will 
tear his fat head offen his lazy shoulders." 

It's the Eleanora Duse in the kid, who actually is a girl of not 
inconsiderable culture. She is a rather proficient artist and uses 
this skill to draw cartoons she mails to members of opposing teams. 
Her technique in this style of ribbing is effective. 

Another one of the standouts in the upper realms of women's 
softball is Freda Savona of the Jax Brewers of New Orleans. Tris 
Speaker, the old grey fox of baseball, maintains that Freda has one 
of the best ball throwing arms he ever saw in operation with a 
softball or baseball. The Savona girl was brought from Cleveland 
to New Orleans when the National Screw Manufacturing Company 
team was raided after its world championships in 1936 and 1937. 
Along with her came Dot Underwood, third basewoman, or base- 
man, as the women's softball lexicon has it, and manager of the 

Belles of the Ball 165 

National Screw's championship teams. Also departing from Cleve- 
land for New Orleans were Gene Peck and Mary Skorich. Miss 
Skorich pitched two no-hit games in the 1937 championship. The 
raid gives the thick-skulled males a faint idea of how the Yankees' 
domination of major league baseball might be broken. Leave it to 
the girls to figure the answers. However, such raids are at an end 
in women's softball as the ruling body of the sport has changed 
the regulations that formerly required 30-day residence in a com- 
munity as eligibility, and now call for six months' residence in the 
state in which the player's team is located. 

When the National Screw champions were disbanded by the 
lure of more lucrative jobs in the southland, Alameda (Calif.) girls 
hammered down opposition in winning the 1938 and 1939 national 
titles. These brawny and sunkist cuties have it over their sisters of 
the cinema sector to the south of them as players, but in oomph, 
impartial critics give the Los Angeles maidens the decision. 

Marty Fielder, former minor and major league baseballer, and 
his brother Irving, organized a women's softball league around 
Los Angeles. They got eight sponsors to invest $1,000 apiece in 
backing the teams. The bulk of the gate is at a dime. It's been a 
very profitable entertainment venture for the astute Fielder broth- 

Although southern California's girl softballers haven't the per- 
forming class (according to competent national judges) that the 
standout teams in other sections show, the calibre of their work is 
improving so speedily that it is expected southern California soon 
will be represented by brilliant teams at the national champion- 
ships. Then, so apprehensive males fear, there may be a brisk 
battle as an added attraction. Florida has the reigning beauty 
queen of softball, Miss Paulette Nolan, outfielder for the Dr. 
Pepper Girls of Miami Beach. 

With Miami Beach and Hollywood in a battle of curve tossing 
for the world's title, there should be the bitterest, most beautiful 
competition ever beheld by the eyes of mortal man. 

To tell the truth about it, the softball girls weather fairly well. 
There is a lady named Lorraine Gehrke, who has completed her 
tenth year, with the original Bloomer Girls' softball team, and 
never missed an inning of short-stopping during that stretch. You 
might be disposed to think that a lady Gehrig, in contour and 
solidity 5 would resemble a wholesale butcher's block. However, in 

166 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

verity, the rollicking and durable Lorraine has a considerable edge 
in pulchritude and streamlining over many another nice lady whose 
sliding has been done from one chair to another in changing bridge 
partners, instead of over skinned diamonds that abrade the hide 
like a nutmeg grater. 

Though all but Lorraine have fled from the line-up of the 
pioneer Bloomer Girls, Ed Baumgardner, who still manages the 
team he founded in 1924, says that he will parade members of his 
old line-ups in competition with any other group of Eloradora 

It might be so. Naturally the girls' softball talent is selected 
from a physically superior group. 

The American parent seems to encourage his female progeny 
in the sprightly pastime of softball. Fathers whose names once were 
on scorecards of major and minor league, and scholastic ball games 
have their names kept luminous by their maiden children whose 
diamond feats are thrilling the neighborhoods. One of this corps 
of lassies, Shirley Jameson, is the daughter of the once-renowned 
Tubby Jameson. Miss Shirley is of such proficiency that when one 
tells her daddy that if he were as good at baseball as his daughter 
is at softball, he would have out-glamoured Babe Ruth, all that 
Jameson pere can do is to nod agreement. 

There still is abundant opportunity for better stage manage- 
ment in women's softball, Some teams persist in swathing them- 
selves in the superdrooper bloomers which are, beyond all ques- 
tion, the most godawful creation an esthetically illiterate modiste 
ever hung on the human form divine. The color combinations of 
many of the suits are reasons for playing many games at night, for 
it is a certainty that man, woman or child of normal vision must 
suffer unpleasant disturbances at the pit of the belly upon view- 
ing the bilious colors that clash on softball uniforms. 

Considering the physical requirements of softball, it is amaz- 
ing how many a neat set of gams is revealed by the tastefully at- 
tired maidens who perform in shorts instead of in the superdrooper 
pants. The girls do get their knees, legs and hams skinned by 
slides, and as the result of being sent bounding on their beautiful 
bottoms by contact with other sturdy maidens. But it is just such 
mishaps that stir the mothering instincts of the crowds — 65% of 
which are males — and add another appeal to the game. 

As a matter of fact, somewhat unpleasant to organized baseball, 

Belles of the Ball 167 

girls' Softball is showing the swiftest rate of increase in sports draw. 
Around Chicago, for instance, girls' softball at five parks, over an 
18 weeks' season, drew about twice the season's crowd Chicago's 
American League White Sox drew. The New York Rangers and 
Roverettes, playing at Madison Square Garden last summer, aver- 
aged more than 9,000 customers per game. 

This pastime is drawing its own group of fans, many of whom 
have switched from other sports, and some of whom are entirely 
new as sports entertainment enthusiasts. There is a lively grade of 
violence toward the umpires exhibited at close contests between the 
girls, and ingenuity shown by the players in inciting the crowd 
against the arbiters. All of that adds to the gaiety of the show. 
Perhaps one of the umpires' problems accounts for the hideous 
superdrooper pants previously mentioned. Mr. Harry Wilson, who 
has worked many of the big games in ladies' softball, tells of a case 
of an umpire being rebuked by a lady catcher, thus : 

"Listen, big boy, if you would take your lamps off the batter's 
knees- long enough to look around maybe you would see more of 
these pitches coming over as strikes." 

You can't send a doll to the bench for a remark like that. You 
have to listen and like it. That's what the country is doing about 
the girls' softball games. 

Horse Champions of Tnis Century 

February 19 35 

The United States is going running-horse crazy — witness 
the number of states that have legalized racing and betting 
and the number of new and successful tracks opened in the 
past two years or about to open. With the pugilistic "game" mori- 
bund, with the big-league baseball clubs often in the red and even 
with football running a temperature, the animal that King Rich- 
ard once vainly offered a kingdom for seems to be coming back into 
his own. The racing of running-horses always has been monarch 
of sports in Great Britain, but in this country the trotters and 
pacers formerly overshadowed the runners. Now, however, it's 
another story. 

First on the list of great horses since 1900 must be placed the 
name of Man o' War. A two-year-old in 1919 and a three-year-old 
in 1920, "Big Red" was the Jack Dempsey of the American turf. 
A bad post-actor, nervous and irritable at the start as was Dempsey 
in his corner before a fight, once the barrier was sprung and the 
field away he took the lead in effortless fashion and maintained 
it to the end. Defeated but once in twenty-one starts, then by a colt 
named Upset — and upset indeed — Man.o' War stamped himself 
on the consciousness of the American racing public as a super- 
horse. The only criticism that oldtimers could make of him with 
any show of support in the facts was that he always ran in front 
and never won by coming from behind. He never had to. His theory 
of a race seemed to be much the same as Dempsey's theory of a 
fight — to get the blamed thing over with. And he did. In the Dwyer 
of 1920 he toyed with John P. Grier at a mile and a half, toyed 
with him and broke his heart after that good colt alone had accepted 
the issue of the race when all the other eligibles had dodged the 
hopeless task of attempting to best the horse of a century. 

The big chestnut ran in front because he possessed blinding 


Horse Champions op This Century 169 

early speed as well as the ability to run a distance; it was his way 
of racing. On the morning of his eighty thousand dollar match-race 
with Sir Barton at Kenilworth Park, Canada, he was given a 
limbering-up gallop of a quarter-mile and was timed by several 
watches in from 20% to 21 seconds. The American record for a 
race at the distance is 21 % seconds, held by a horse called Bob 
Wade. They never have come faster than Man o' War, and there 
is no reason to expect they ever will come better. In him the 
thoroughbred type reached perfect flower after its three-hundred- 
year-ago beginning in the mating with native English mares of 
Arabian and Barb stallions imported into Great Britain during 
the reigns of the Stuart kings, of William III and of Anne. 

Two great horses were contemporaries of Man o' War — Ex- 
terminator and Sir Barton. Although defeated by the super-horse 
in their match-race in 1920, when Man o' War was three and he 
four years old, Sir Barton had won the Kentucky Derby of 1919 
at Churchill Downs, defeating Billy Kelly and Eternal. He went 
on to win the Preakness at Pimlico, Maryland, again defeating 
Eternal as well as Sweep On, won the Withers at Belmont Park, 
New York, and later took the Belmont Stakes at a mile and a half. 
No other horse ever won a Kentucky Derby, a Preakness, a Withers 
and a Belmont. In the same year, as a three-year-old, he picked up 
a hundred and thirty-three pounds and beat Mad Hatter and 
Audacious in a Maryland Handicap run in 2 minutes, 2% seconds, 
for the mile and a quarter. Mad Hatter and Audacious carried 
only a hundred and six and a hundred and eighteen pounds re- 

In 1920 as a four-year-old Sir Barton packed a hundred and 
twenty-nine pounds to victory over Wildair and Exterminator 
in the Saratoga Handicap at a mile and a quarter, time 2 minutes, 
1% seconds. In the same year he won the Merchants and Citizens 
Handicap at a mile and three-sixteenths, defeating Gnome and Jack 
Stuart in 1 minute, 55 3/5 seconds — thus setting an American 
record for the distance until A. G. Vanderbilt's Discovery reduced 
it to 1 minute, 55 seconds flat, at Narragansett Park in September, 

Like Man o' War, Sir Barton was a chestnut, but unlike "Big 
Red" he was a small one. However, he could carry weight and was 
"all horse." His poor races can be attributed to his hoofs. Their 

170 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

walls were so thin that they would not always hold the nails se- 
curing his racing-plates. 

In 1918 Willis Sharpe Kilmer, the Binghamton, New York, 
sportsman, had the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, but the colt 
ran a nail into his foot and could not race. So Kilmer purchased 
the three-year-old eligible gelding Exterminator, merely to get a 
horse to carry his colors in the race. Exterminator won in the mud, 
at odds of about 30 to 1, and thus began a career in racing over 
distances which endeared him to the public to a degree never before 
or since achieved by any other horse. "Old Bones," as he affec- 
tionately was known about the tracks, could carry any weight and 
run all day. He still holds the American record for two miles — 
3 minutes, 21 % seconds — made under weight of a hundred and 
twenty-eight pounds when he was five years old. In any list of great 
horses of this century Exterminator's name belongs near the top. 

Gallant Fox — the Fox of Belair — in 1930 won the most im- 
pressive list of stakes for three-year-olds ever garnered by a colt of 
that age in this country. He took the Wood Memorial, Preakness, 
Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Dwyer, Arlington Classic and Lawrence 
Realization, also the Saratoga Cup and the Jockey Club Gold Cup. 
He was retired to the stud at the end of his third year, having 
accumulated winnings of over three hundred and eight thousand 
dollars, exclusive of what he gained as a two-year-old, an all-time 
record both here and abroad. A son of his, the Belair Stud's 
Omaha, barring accident or misfortune will run in the Kentucky 
Derby of 1935 and will carry the writer's money. 

A flagstaff at the Aqueduct track, New York, still marks the 
training quarters of the Fox of Belair. Unlike Man o' War ? the 
Fox almost always ran from behind, and no one who ever saw it 
ever will forget his thunderbolt charge in the stretch. 

The twentieth century did not have to await the period of Ex- 
terminator, Man o' War and Sir Barton before it saw a great 
horse. Hermis, the "little red 'un," in 1902 as a three-year-old won 
eight straight races, including a Travers. Although only a little 
over fifteen hands in height, he could and did pack weight and 
dealt out numerous beatings to the best horses of his period. In 
the first half of his fourth year he did little, being hampered by 
the incubus of an amateur trainer, but in 1904, when five years 
old, he carried a hundred and twenty-seven pounds a mile and a 
quarter to victory in the Suburban Handicap over The Picket, 

Horse Champions of This Century 171 

Irish Lad, Major Daingerfield and Africander. The time was 2 
minutes, 5 seconds flat — and in those days tracks were much slower 
than they are now. Like the other little red 'un, Sir Barton, Hermis 
was all horse. He won a total of eighty-four thousand one hundred 
and fifty-five dollars in purses in a period when single races were 
much less richly endowed than they have been recently and still 

James R. Keene's Colin followed Hermins closely in point of 
time, having retired from racing late in 1908. He never was beaten, 
but won fifteen races in a line and amassed earnings of something 
over a hundred and eighty thousand. 

In 1925 Man o' War's greatest son — Crusader — came to the 
races as a two-year-old. As a three-year-old in 1926 he won the 
Suburban Handicap under a hundred and four pounds, defeating 
American Flag — another Man o' War colt — and Chilhowee, and 
in 1927 he won the same race at a mile and a quarter when carrying 
a hundred and twenty-seven pounds. The time was 2 minutes, 
2 3/5 seconds, over a track saturated by rain, and in the race 
he defeated Black Maria, under a hundred and twenty pounds, one 
of the best race-mares this country ever produced ; Macaw, under a 
hundred and twenty pounds; Chance Play, under a hundred and 
twenty-five pounds, and Display, under a hundred and sixteen 
pounds. Crusader beat real horses in this race — and led by seven 
lengths at the finish. One of the vanquished, Display, won over two 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars before he retired from racing. 
Incidentally he since has sired Discovery, A. G. Vanderbilt's good 
three-year-old, Cavalcade's chief rival in 1934. 

Crusader is the only horse to have scored a double in the Su- 
burban. He also won the Belmont, the Dwyer, the Jockey Club 
Gold Cup and other important races. 

Reigh Count — one of the few American horses to have raced 
successfully in England — as a two-year-old in 1927 permitted his 
stable-mate Anita Peabody to win the Belmont Futurity by suffer- 
ance, but then won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at a mile 
and as a three-year-old in 1928 won the Kentucky Derby, Law? 
rence Realization, Saratoga Cup and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In 
England in 1929 he won the Coronation Cup and ran second to 
Invershin in the Ascot Gold Cup at two miles and a half — the 
sternest test of all races for a thoroughbred under weight. Reigh 
Count easily beat in this country horses such as Sun Beau — world's 

172 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

champion money -winner — Misstep, Toro, Diavolo and Victorian, 
and must be included in any list of the "ten best since 1900." 

The year 1931 on the tracks a quartette of three-year-olds of 
the highest class — Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney's Twenty Grand, 
C. V. Whitney's Equipoise, A. C. Bostwick's Mate and G. D. 
Widener's Jamestown. Jamestown, although a horse of extreme 
speed up to a mile, did not fulfill the promise of his victories in the 
Belmont Futurity of 1930 and in the Withers of 1931 ; he was 
soundly trounced both by Twenty Grand and Sun Meadow in the 
Belmont Stakes of the latter year, and his chief claim to fame is 
that it was his dazzling pace which forced Equipoise to set a new 
world's record for the mile in a race at Arlington Park, Chicago, 
when both horses were four-year-olds. Mate did not display his 
three-year-old form in after years and now is racing in England 
with mediocre success. But Twenty Grand and Equipoise both must 
be included in any list of the century's best horses. 

In 1931 Twenty Grand won the Kentucky Derby in record 
time — % minutes, 1% seconds for the mile and a quarter — also the 
Belmont Stakes in record time of % minutes, 29 3/5 seconds for 
the mile and a half, time which stood until Peace Chance shaded it 
by two-fifths of a second in June of 1934. "Twenty" won other 
stakes and cups, but was beaten by Mate in the Arlington Classic 
of 1931 ; his leg-soundness had begun to be impaired by his rough 
manner of going. Although he could develop extreme speed when 
thoroughly warmed to his work, Twenty Grand ran not like a horse 
but rather in great bounds like a lion. With such a gait it is no 
wonder that he went wrong in his third year. But no one can ever 
forget who saw it, his stretch-run in the Belmont of 1931, lengthen- 
ing stride and leaving Sun Meadow and Jamestown farther and 
farther behind with every leap at the end of the long journey of a 
mile and a half. 

Equipoise went wrong in the beginning of his third year, 1931, 
and was laid up till the spring of 1932. As a four and five-year-old 
he proved practically invincible in the handicap-division — good 
horses over three years old. He could carry weight and he could 
develop extreme speed, particularly at distances from a mile to a 
mile and a quarter, as attested by his mile world-record ahead of 
Jamestown and the fact that he has won more races at a mile and 
a quarter in times only fractionally slower than 2 minutes and % 
seconds than any other horse that ever raced. 

Horse Champions of This Century *173 

These horses, then, in the writer's opinion, are the twentieth 
century's "ten best" — Hermis, Colin, Exterminator, Sir Barton, 
Man o' War, Crusader, Reigh Count, Gallant Fox, Twenty Grand 
and Equipoise. No attempt has been made to rank them in order of 
class or quality, save that Man o' War has been, as he must be, 
placed on top. If all these could be resurrected from death or 
brought back to the tracks from retirement, if all could be made of 
even age, say three or four years, and if all could be entered to 
race together at a mile and a quarter, what a contest that would 

To call it a race would be to deal in anticlimax. 

Rather it would be a battle of Titans, a struggle of gods, and 
who shall say what horse would be under the rose-blanket after 
the hoofs had thundered through the stretch and the dust had 
drifted away? 

Here They Come 


March, ldJfi 

Once practically everyone in America at all interested in 
sports knew the trotting and pacing horses. When one 
of the champions was to appear at one of our state fairs, 
J. I. C.j Maud S., Nancy Hanks, Dan Patch, the people turned 
out as they do nowadays to a big college football game. Men and 
boys hung over the fences along the race tracks. 

"Here they come!" 

The trotters or the pacers were in the home stretch in an ex- 
citing race. Some of the drivers were shouting wildly while others 
sat with grim tense faces, holding the reins over their steeds. 

The horses themselves, as they swung into the full rhythm of 
their stride, seemed to flatten. Heads were thrust forward, nostrils 
distended. There was the ringing round of hoofs on the hard earth. 
A little gray mare was creeping up inch by inch on a big free- 
legged brown gelding. He was a high stepping, long-striding one. 
She was at his flank, at his shoulder. There was the wire just ahead. 
Would she make it ? 

"Here she comes ! Here she comes ! Ha ! She has made it !" 

Almost every boy and man hanging over the fences along the 
home stretch at the big mile tracks, at the state fairs where the fast- 
est sometimes came at the little dusty half-mile tracks at the county 
fairs, knew his horses. He could recite for you the blood lines of his 
favorites. In every American town there were a few men, owning 
a few good ones, colts they hoped might come on, get into the big 
time. It was the sport of the small town man, the farmer. A few 
city men went for it but on the whole it remained the sport of 
men who lived close to the horse. General Grant loved the trotters 
as did the first of the Vanderbilts. The big-timers went to the 
Grand Circuit meetings at North Randall, near Cleveland, to 
Goshen, New York, Meadville, Pennsylvania, Kalamazoo in 


Here They Come 175 

Michigan. It threatened to blow up, come to an end with the com- 
ing of the automobile. 

Unlike the running tracks, harness horse racing never was a 
sport for big time gamblers. A quite different crowd was attracted 
and is still attracted. They are a hearty sun-tanned outdoors 
crowd, these harness horse men. 

It was a horse age, when almost every man you knew owned 
some kind of horse. The country doctor drove a horse along coun- 
try roads to visit his patients, the lawyers and judge went horse- 
drawn from town to town to attend court, the livery stable was the 
hangout of the young sports of the towns. Men and boys knew the 
blood lines of horses as now they know the various makes of auto- 

It seemed a dying sport but it never did quite die and now it is 
coming to life again. Go in the winter to the Old Glory horse sale, 
held in New York City, where the yearlings from the big Hanover 
Shoe Farms and from other big breeding farms are brought in for 
sale. They will be coming up also from many big and little breed- 
ing establishments, buyers there from small towns all over the coun- 
try, a few rich men, many of the small town well-to-do class, what 
we have learned recently to call "the middle class." They will be 
also at the big Indianapolis sale and at the fall sale of yearlings 
from Walnut Hall near Lexington during the Lexington Trots, 
in late September. 

They are in the show ring at one of the big sales. There is a 
man on a pony leading a yearling around the ring. The pony goes 
at a furious gallop. The man cries out, the colt is on a halter, at 
his galloping pony's heels. The man shouts. He gives wild cries. He 
cracks a long whip over the colt's head. 

"You see — he is bred right, eh," he is saying to the colt buyers. 
"Look how naturally he sticks to the trot or pace." 

"He is a good one, boys. Buy him and own a winner." 

It goes on and on, man's love of the horse. The automobile 
threatened to kill it, wipe it out, but didn't succeed. For a long 
time, after the automobile came, when the barns that used to stand 
back of almost every house in the towns began to be torn down or 
turned into garages, it looked as though a special breed of horse- 
men, the drivers and owners of trotters and pacers, might die out 
and what many men had thought the noblest and most beautiful 
of all forms of sport, be forgotten. 

176 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Forgotten also the time when the rich city man, living but a 
few blocks from his office, still felt he had to own a good one or a 
team of good ones, the time when you could see a horse race almost 
any day, down through a residence street of an American town or 
city, when after a snowfall, horsemen of the towns got their best 
ones out for a sleigh race down through the main street. No red 
and green stop lights for them. A country lawyer, a saloon keeper, 
a doctor, each up behind his own fast one, the main street cleared 
of farmers' teams, men and boys standing in crowds on the side- 
walks before the stores, all business suspended for the time. The 
quiet-seeming country doctor has become like a wild man now. He 
is holding the lines over a big gelding that has been to the races 
and won't break no matter how much noise the doctor makes. He 
plans to throw that little mare the lawyer is driving off his stride, 
and so wild cries come from his lips and he slashes his long whip 
back and forth over his gelding's head. 

It is fun, horse fun, man's fun. The country doctor as he drives 
visiting his patients from house to house along country roads has 
trained his gelding not to be annoyed by his cries and his whip 
lashings. The big gelding knows the game. He half turns his head 
waiting for the little mare to go into a "break." 

Even the preachers indulged in it sometimes, although a 
preacher had to be careful. If he went off to one of the big sales 
and bought himself a yearling and had the fun of training him, 
seeing him get a little more and a little more into his stride, if he 
began to dream of seeing his horse in a race at county fair time, 
he had to take him to a professional horse trainer and driver. 

"Jim, you understand that, as far as the public is concerned, 
he is your horse. It wouldn't do for me to send a horse into a race 
and if you do send him in, it's on your own. You understand?" 

"Sure I understand, preacher." , 

"Preacher, he sure looks like a comer to me." 

There were farmers who got what was called the "horse craze." 
Such a one sold his farm and moved into town. He bought some 
colts and opened a training stable. He trained on the half mile 
dirt track up at the town's fair ground. He might be a young man 
whose father had died and left him a good farm and everyone said 
he was a fool to let a good farm go for the horse racing game. 

However he had a dream. He had his heroes. He dreamed of 
some day becoming an Ed Greer, known far and wide as "The Silent 

Here They Come 177 

Man from Tennessee," a Walter Cox, a Budd Doble. The trot and 
the pace were American institutions like baseball, highly technical, 
fast, exciting. Almost every man along the main street of an Amer- 
ican small town knew the fine points of the game. It had its heroes, 
known to all, its Babe Ruths among race horse drivers, its Jimmy 
Foxxes, its DiMaggios. The fast trotter had been an American 
development and all the world champions had been born and trained 
here. When the Europeans wanted to get really good ones they 
had to come here. The Czar of Russia and the Grand Dukes sent 
their buyers. Buyers came from the kings and princes of many 
lands. Some of our famous drivers and trainers went to drive and 
train in Europe. 

It was a time when all men were close to the horse. It was true 
that the run was the faster gait, the gait a horse naturally took 
when pressed to extreme speed, but the American always did love 
technique. Look what we have done to football and to baseball. At 
the trot or pace, there is something controlled. You are held within 
a certain definite technique, as when a poet writes a sonnet. I re- 
member when one day I took a young man, a horse lover, son of 
an old-time trotting-horse man, to see a trotting race, at a time 
when the harness horse seemed on his way out. The young man 
did not understand or see how skillfully one of our well-known 
harness horse drivers tooled his horse through the stretch, pressing 
him to the last possible inch of speed at the gait and not over press- 
ing to throw him off his stride. The boy could not understand be- 
cause he knew only the saddlers and the runners. I wanted to weep 
not only for my friend's son but for all sons born in an age when 
what had seemed the finest development of the horse ever known 
was passing out. 

But it has not passed. Now it comes to life again. Now we have 
the Hamiltonian, named for old Hamiltonian 10, whose blood runs 
down through almost every horse, trotter or pacer, going to the 
harness races today, a big forty, fifty, sometimes even sixty thou- 
sand dollar race. It is a big race, in a sense we Americans under- 
stand, big money involved, and it gets attention. The big city 
newspapers send their sports writers to the race, the city men turn 
out, whole pages in the sports section of the big city newspapers 
are devoted to the race, a Peter Astra, the Hamiltonian winner, 
Kentucky Futurity winner, owned by an Ohio small town doctor, 
gets his picture in the city newspapers. Go among the people at 

178 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Goshen on the day of the Hamiltonian and you will find a vast 
majority of the crowd still small towners and farmers. It is their 
big day. The best of the new ones, the coming champions, will be 
there. It is their kind of horse racing, the kind they know and love. 

And now harness horse racing is adjusting itself to the modern 
age. It is not only that they step faster and faster every year, 
dozens of good ones down now well below the two-minute mark, 
great horses, like the Greyhound and Billy Direct stepping miles 
that would have seemed unbelievable to the men of the horse and 
buggy age, a new one like Peter Astra likely, before he retires to 
the stud, to go faster even than the Greyhound or Billy Direct 
new men, Doc Parshall, Sep Palin, Vic Flemming, Ben White, to 
take the place of the Coxes, Greers and Dobles of another day, 
but there is also a sharp stepping up of the get-away going on. 

It was the scoring for the start that too much annoyed the 
modern harness horse race goer although it did not annoy the peo- 
ple of the horse and buggy age. The horses went up to the head of 
the home stretch and turning scored down for a fair start. There 
were numbers drawn and the pole horse, on the inside of the track, 
was to lead the way. If another horse scored down ahead of him or 
a horse went into a break, leaped into a run, it was no go and had 
to be done over again, sometimes five, ten, even twelve or fifteen 
times, the starter scolding the drivers, we in the crowd sitting 
patiently, each driver trying to get the advantage of the start, 
sometimes a driver fined, it all, we felt, a science too, the drivers 
striving to outwit the starter, but to the modern race goer, knowing 
horse racing for the most part only at the running tracks, it was 
all too slow. 

Starting machinery is being introduced now, to get the horses 
off quickly. Bigger and bigger crowds are coming again to the 
harness races. 

And there is something else. The man who owns a trotter or a 
pacer can, if he has the gift, if he loves the feel of the lines held 
over a good one, get up behind him himself. It isn't at all neces- 
sary, as with the running horse, to turn him over to some slip of 
a boy. All the thrills may come to any man, a horse lover, who 
can feel himself, as the harness horse race driver may, a part of 
the horse at speed, controlling him, handling him, timing him to 
get out of him the last inch of speed. The harness horse man can, 
if he wishes and has the courage, the nerve, the gift of the hands 


Here They Come 179 

holding the reins, get up there himself. It is this fact that is draw- 
ing them back. The little owners are again going to the yearling 
sales. Horsemen, who can afford to own big stables, the Harri- 
mans, the Dunbar Bostwicks and other rich men are buying fast 
ones. They can get up there themselves, know the feel of the horse, 
know in their own bodies the curious accord that sometimes grows 
between man and horse. Women who have the horse passion can do 
it. In '37 at the Lexington Trots, held in late September, a slip 
of a girl of eleven, Miss Alma Sheppard, daughter of Lawrence 
Sheppard, trainer at the Hanover Shoe Farms, took the three- 
year-old trotter, Dean Hanover, out on the tracks and with him 
smashed the three-year-old's records, doing the mile in 1.581/2 . 
With the modern bike sulky the weight of the driver doesn't mat- 
ter too much. He isn't up there on the horse's back. What matters 
is something in the driver's hands, in his head, in his nerves. He 
doesn't have to hand the game over to a boy, stand aside. He can 
get up there, behind his horse, the racing flanks of his horse, his 
pride and joy, between his legs, be in it, a part of it. 

This is the fact that, in the end, will surely more and more 
bring horse-loving men back again to the harness horse and to 
harness horse racing. 

Long Count Fignt 

August, 19Jf3 

Sixteen years ago it was, come next month, when Dave Barry's 
right arm whipped chill early autumn air over a recumbent 
gladiator. Gene Tunney, his eyes filmed by goof-glaze, 
watched that count. Five precious seconds had been lost by Jack 
Dempsey in getting to a neutral corner. Those of the 104,943 
crowd that favored Dempsey — and they were a roaring, bellowing 
majority — had clamored for Barry to begin counting, but Barry 
knew that neutral corner rule too clearly to be rushed by hysteria. 

That seventh round at Soldier Field, Chicago, September 22, 
1927, was history and a hundred years long for Tunney and his 
partisans. It was history as history used to be figured and time 
as time can drag when one man is on the canvas and another, fran- 
tic with primitive instinct, has a fist cocked for the kill. 

Those 14 seconds of that ten-round heavyweight championship 
fight, out of the more than a billion and a quarter seconds that 
have been ticked off since the beginning of the century, compacted 
the drama of the sporting event this month's Esquire Sports Poll 
voters rated the greatest of the Twentieth Century. 

By a long margin the Long Count fight between the now Com- 
mander J. J. Tunney of the Navy and the warrior who now is Lieu- 
tenant Jack Dempsey of the Coast Guard was voted the top 
sporting event of the past 42-and-a-fraction years. 

As Bill Kinney, Rock Island Argus, commented: "For the 
amount of space devoted to it, I believe the Long Count fight tops 
all other events. There was the controversial angle of the 'long 
count,' the financial tops of $2,658,660, real heavyweight fighters, 
the question of the ring's 'comeback'. In short, it was the event of 
the 'era of wonderful nonsense', and what wouldn't we all give to 
have it back?" 

Second to the Tunney-Dempsey fight as a standout sporting 


Long Count Fight 181 

event of the century was the 1930 performance of Major Bobby 
Jones, long before he was in the Army, in winning the United 
States and British Open and Amateur championships. One has 
only to recall the margins of Jones' victories that year to appre- 
ciate how emphatically he dominated golf. In the British amateur 
final, he defeated Roger Wethered 7 and 6. In the British Open, 
the Jones 291 led Leo Diegel and Macdonald Smith, who divided 
second money, by two strokes. Macdonald Smith finished second 
to the Emperor Jones in the U. S. Open at Interlachen, Minne- 
apolis, and again Mac was two strokes shy of the winning 287. 
On September 27, Jones completed his conquest by mowing down 
Gene Homans 8 and 7 at the Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia. 

"In winning the four major championships in golf," wrote 
Frank Craven, the actor, who is also a great golf and sports fan, "I 
think Bob Jones gave a great exhibition of concentration, condi- 
tion and determination. He had time between championships to 
relax, but to keep at the peak of his game over the span of time 
was a great feat. Championship golf is no sissy game." 

Jesse Owens' performance in the 1936 Olympics won third place 
in the voting. In nine of his 12 performances in heats and finals, 
22-year-old Owens either equalled or bettered the existing Olym- 
pic records, and in five appearances he bettered or equalled the 
existing world's records. As Norman S. Thomas, Lewiston, Maine, 
Journal, pointed out: "Owens won the 100-meters in :10.3, equal- 
ling the world and Eddie Tolan's Olympic record made at Los 
Angeles in 1932. He took the 200 meters in :20.7 for a new world 
and Olympic record. He won the broad jump at 26 feet 5 2 %4 
inches, bettering the Olympic record. And he ran on the winning 
400-meter relay team with Ralph Metcalfe, Foy Draper and Frank 
Wykoff in the time of :39.8, which lowered the world and Olympic 
record." Don T. Wattrick, wxyz, Detroit, seconded the nomination 
with "Owens' performance in the Big Ten track meet at Ann Arbor, 
May 25, 1935, when he ran the 220-yard low hurdles in :22.6 for a 
new world record ; did the 220 in :20.2 for another world record ; 
broad- jumped 26 feet S 1 /^ inches for a third new world record, and 
equalled the world mark for the century of :09A" 

Baseball registered in fourth place with the 1926 World Series 
performance of Grover Cleveland Alexander in the seventh inning 
of the seventh game. The Alexander feat was that of relieving Jesse 
Haines with the bases loaded with Yankees, and striking out Tony 

182 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Lazzeri. The Cards then went on to win St. Louis' first world 
championship. "When Alexander hurriedly warmed up and rushed 
to the mound in time to strike out Tony Lazzeri with the bases 
full," wrote Gene Kessler, Chicago Times, he performed the out- 
standing diamond feat of the century." 

Fifth in the parade of the century's sports hits also went to 
baseball with that mighty clout Babe Ruth made over the right 
field fence at Wrigley Field, Chicago, in the third game of the 
1932 World Series. "The star-spangled 20th century," wrote 
John O'Donnell, Davenport Democrat cy Leader, "had a wagon 
load of outstanding and thrilling sports events, but I believe the 
top moment came that afternoon in the World Series in Chicago 
in 1932 when Babe Ruth, turning around to the Cubs who were 
jockeying him, pointed to the right-center field fence and told them 
that he would knock the next pitch over it — and then did it ! That 
was the biggest moment of confidence in sports history !" 

No. 6 on the list the Sports Pollers compiled was that series 
of gallops by Red Grange for Illinois against Michigan at Ur- 
bana, Illinois, on October 18, 1924. Ellis Veech, East St. Lowis 
Journal, recollected that: "Grange ran back the opening kickoff 
95 yards for a touchdown without a hand being laid on him, and 
then the next three times he had his hands on the ball he made runs 
of 67, 56 and 45 yards for touchdowns — all in the first 12 minutes 
of the first quarter. Taken out then until the final period, he scored 
his fifth touchdown of the game on a 15-yard jaunt as Illinois 
swamped the champions of the previous year, 39 to 14, for the first 
defeat in the high school and college career of Herb Steger, Mich- 
igan's great captain." 

Closely pressing for places in the first six were a couple of short 
and fierce fights. Jack Dempsey again figured in the voting by 
having his fight with Luis Angel Firpo placed well up in the list 
of runner-ups. This one was one of fistiana's most devastating and 
delirious presentations. This was the bout in which Dempsey was 
knocked out of the ring and down into typewriter row, but climbed 
back in to win sensationally. W. N. Cox, Norfolk Virginia-Pilot, 
said there was "nothing ever like it in heavyweight championship 

Then there was Joe Louis' sudden-death knockout of Max 
Schmeling in the second fight between that pair. Previously 
knocked out in a 12-rounder with Schmeling, Louis didn't spar for 

Long Count Fight 183 

any opening on the return engagement. Louis' first punch turned 
Schmeling completely around. The second, to the kidneys, sent 
the Uhlan writhing and crying to the floor. Two years' stored-up 
slaughter went with those punches and Schmeling was a screaming 
victim after those two leather block-busters hit. Floyd Olds, Omaha 
World-Herald, commented that : "Louis' knockout of Schmeling in 
the first round avenged the only blemish on his record." 

Jim Thorpe's trophies were taken away from him after his 
spectacular victories in both the Pentathlon and Decathlon in the 
Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912 because he had played profes- 
sional baseball, but his noble feats have not been forgotten. Two 
years later came another unforgettable event — the spurt of the 
Boston Braves. J. G. Taylor Spink, editor of The Sporting News, 
which is publishing a special Overseas Edition for the soldiers, 
rated the 1914 World Series when George Stallings' sensational 
team which came from last place on the Fourth of July to win the 
pennant, went right on to sweep Connie Mack's Athletics with their 
"$100,000 infield" in four straight, for the first time this had hap- 
pened in Series history. 

Arthur Krock, chief of the Washington office of the New York 
Times and winner of the Pulitzer prize for Washington corre- 
spondence in 1935, was among those listing the Braves' 1914 drive 
from cellar to championship. 

Baseball scored again with Johnny Vander Meer's unprece- 
dented two successive no-hit games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938. 
This was followed by the Chicago Bears' amazing 73-to-0 rout of 
the Washington Redskins in the pro football championship game 
of 1940. Bob Johnson, Spokane Chronicle, was one of many voting 
for: "Cornelius Warmerdam's vault in April, 1940, when he first 
cleared 15 feet, and since then has consistently shattered the 
'human ceiling' for pole vaulting." Sec Taylor, Des Moines Regis- 
ter, was among those who thought Gertrude Ederle's channel swim 
should not be forgotten. Trudy, the first woman to make the cross- 
ing, did it in 14 hours and 31 minutes, which was the best time up 
to that date. There were many votes for Whirlaway's 8 lengths vic- 
tory in the 1941 Kentucky Derby when he set the track record of 
2 :01 2/5. Bob Foote, Pasadena Star-News, voted with others for 
£eats of Knute Rockne's Four Horsemen of Notre Dame, including 
their "defeat of Stanford in the Rose Bowl game of 1925. The 
Four Horsemen, 27 ; Ernie Nevers, 10." 

184 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Fred Digby, New Orleans Item, along with many others, 
thought there should have been at least sixty instead of six events 
chosen. Among his selections not already specified were: "Carl 
Hubbell fanning Ruth, Gehrig, Simmons, Cronin and Foxx in 
succession in the 1934 All-Star Game in New York; Greg Rice's 
victory over Tati Maki in world record time; Mel Ott's debut in 
the big leagues at 16; Willie Pep's feat of winning 62 fights in a 
row; Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak of 2,130 games extend- 
ing from June 1, 1925, to May 2, 1939; Boston College's last 
minute touchdown to beat Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl, and so 
on ad infinitum." 

Barnet Hodes, Chicago's Corporation Counsel, wrote: "Drop- 
kicking on the dead run from unbelievable distances, Pat O'Dea 
of Wisconsin is the closest thing American football has produced 
to Paul Bunyan. The ancient Greeks would have made Pat a demi- 
god, booting the planets and comets about the sun in a titanic 

Ty Cobb, whose own stupendous diamond feats were cited by 
many voters, correctly enough included Lindberg's flight to Paris 
as one of the big sporting events of the century. 

Tee Casper, wish, Indianapolis, pointed with pride to the 
University of Texas vs. Texas Christian grid game of 1933 when 
Charley Casper of tcu returned the opening kickoff 105 yards to 
start the ball rolling toward a 30-to-0 victory for his team over 
the favored Texas team. "My older brother," wrote Casper, "was 
the man who returned that kickoff. To me, this was by far the 
greatest thing I ever saw happen." 

Ed Scannell, Worcester Gazette, in voting for the Jack Demp- 
sey-Jess Willard fight, commented: "Dempsey exploded the myth 
of big men in boxing and started a sensational career with his vic- 
tory at Toledo on July 4, 1919, when he knocked Willard down 
seven times in the first round and kept battering him until Wil- 
lard's seconds tossed in the towel in the fourth." Kenneth Jones, 
Peoria Journal-Transcript, rated the Jack Johnson-Willard fight 
in Havana, April 15, 1915, when the latter won the title by knock- 
ing out the former in 26 rounds. 

Tait Cummins, Cedar Rapids Gazette, went back to the time 
when "Christy Mathewson rang up three shutouts for the Giants 
in the 1905 World Series with the Athletics." Malcolm Street, 
whma, Anniston, Alabama, voted for Joe DiMaggio's 56-game 

Long Count Fight 185 

hitting streak in 1941. Henry A. Sullivan, Salem, Massachusetts, 
Evening News, counted in Lou Gehrig's four home runs in one 
game on June 3, 1932. Many including Jada Davis, Odessa, Texas, 
American, selected Lou Gehrig's farewell to baseball, "because," 
Davis said, "any person lucky enough to hear Gehrig make his 
farewell speech will remember it all his life — and tell his grand- 
children about it." Bob Harlow, sports editor Press Association, 
New York, appropriately thought_jwe should not forget "Captain 
Eddie Grant of the Giants who was killed in action in World 
War I." Vic Diehm, wazl, Hazelton, Pennsylvania, went for Wal- 
ter Johnson's big moment in winning the deciding game of the 
1924 World Series for the Senators over the Giants after being 
beaten twice previously in the series. Norman M. Paulson, wdan, 
Danville, Illinois, liked the record of 18 strikeouts Bob Feller at 
the age of 17 rang up on the Detroit Tigers for Cleveland on Oc- 
tober 2, 1938. Nolan Skiff, Pendleton, Oregon, East Oregonian, 
ranked the "near perfect" game of May 2, 1917, in which "Fred 
Toney of the Reds and Jim Vaughn of the Cubs both pitched 
no-hit hall for nine innings, Toney running his string through the 
tenth to win, 1 to 0." Charles Young, The Knickerbocker News, 
Albany, listed the longest game in major league history, the 26- 
inning 1-to-l game between Brooklyn and Boston on May 1, 1920. 
Dick Freeman, Houston Chronicle, nominated: "Dizzy and Daffy 
Dean's win for the Cards over Detroit in the 1934 World Series." 
Sam Baiter, kmpc, Beverly Hills, California, remembered the 
"rampage of Pepper Martin, rookie, in the 1931 World Series 
when the Cardinals upset the Athletics." 

Larry Grill, Phoenix Gazette, brought up: 

The spine-tingling drama of the last inning of the 1921 World Series 
between the Giants and Yanks at the Polo Grounds. The Giants, behind 
the fine pitching of their great southpaw, Art Nehf (whose son served 
in Captain Joe Foss' squadron and has three Jap planes to his credit in 
Guadalcanal fighting) had a l-to-0 lead when the Yanks came to bat in 
the ninth. First man up was Babe Ruth. He grounded out to Kelly at 
first. Then, after a terrific argument, Aaron Ward drew a base on balls. 
The stands were tense as Frank (Home Run) Baker, who had made his 
reputation as a home run hitter in this same park ten years before, 
strode to the plate. He worked the count to 3 and 2 ; then fouled several 
pitches as the fans screamed for a homer that would win the game for 
the Yanks. He slashed a line drive between first and second that looked 

186 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

like a certain hit, but Johnny Rawlings made a sensational dive, rolled 
head over heels, came up with the ball and threw him out. Kelly whipped 
the ball to Frisch at third, nailing Ward, who made a desperate slide 
that knocked the Fordham Flash out of the infield — but not before the 
umpire had thumbed Ward out. That breath-taking double-play ended 
the series. 

Stubby Currence, Bluefield, West Virginia, Daily Telegraph, 
spoke for Joe College, and "Tommy Harmon's record-breaking 
field day in his final game against Ohio State, November 23, 1940, 
as Michigan won, 40 to 0." L. D. Gasser, Owensboro, Kentucky, 
Messenger, included "Centre College's 6-to-0 upset of Harvard in 
football back in 1921, with 'Bo' McMillin starring." Robert S. 
Kunkel, Associate Editor of The Sporting Goods Dealer, included 
on his list the Rose Bowl game of 1929 when Georgia Tech nipped 
California 8 to 7 as a consequence of Roy Riegel's wrong run. 

Sidney S. Lenz, the bridge star, included the "defeat of the 
invincible 27-year chess champion, Dr. Emanuel Lasker by Jose 
R. Capablanca in 1921." Ira Seebacher, New York Morning Tele- 
graph, included the Sanford Memorial, August 13, 1919, when 
Upset beat Man O'War. Abe Krash, Wyoming Eagle, Cheyenne, 
reasonably enough thought that Wyoming's National basketball 
champions of 1943 should not be overlooked. Earle D. Wilson, 
wnbh, New Bedford, Massachusetts, rated the "1933 Boston 
Marathon, won by Les Pawson." Ed Wray, St. Louis Post-Dis- 
patch, brought up memories of : "M. C. McLoughlin's victory over 
Norman Brookes in the Davis Cup series of 1914 when one set went 
32 games." W. Russell Voigt, Albert Lea, Minnesota, Tribune, 
rated : "Francis Ouimet's victory over Harry Vardon and Ed Ray, 
in the National Open in 1913." 

Joe Boland, wsbt, South Bend, Indiana, voted for "Henry 
Armstrong's winning of three titles." Houston Cox, Jr., wbrc, 
Birmington, was among those going for the Seabiscuit-War Ad- 
miral match race. Harry Keck, Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph, 
rated Notre Dame's 18 to 13 victory over Ohio State in 1935. 

In all, more than 250 different sporting events were proposed 
by the voters as the greatest of the century. Apparently the mo- 
ment was propitious for such a review. Sergeant John Derr, Phys- 
ical Training Director, 89th Fighter Squadron, Greensboro, North 
Carolina, and former sports editor of the Greensboro Daily News, 

The Esquire Sports Poll 187 

wrote: "As one of the boys in service, I find myself being called 
on to settle a lot of sports arguments over the years as my bud- 
dies start 'remembering'. And on a lot of cold, dark nights, there 
is nothing so warming as to remember about better days." 

Fritz Crisler, Michigan's football coach, reported that: "An 
Army Captain just back from Guadalcanal pleaded with me to 
do all we could to have more sports events broadcast to the men 
overseas. He said he has known of men walking five miles to listen 
to some sporting events." 

Participants in the poll were sports writers, radio announcers, 
the public, and the men at Camp Polk, Louisiana, home of the 
Third Army Corps commanded by Major General Willis D. Crit- 
tenberger. It is our largest Armored Force Camp. 

Tke Army-Navy 1926 
Football Game 


September, 19J/.8 

Memories of mock wars on gridirons pass in review as foot- 
ball fans present in this month's Esquire Sports Poll 
their selections of the greatest performers and perform- 
ances the game has displayed. 

It's fitting that an Army-Navy game, the &l-to-21 affair at 
Soldier Field, Chicago, in 1926, was chosen by the majority of 
voters as the greatest football game they ever saw. Among the stars 
of the set-to were Commander Tom Hamilton of the Navy, who 
has been responsible for the highly successful Naval Pre-flight 
physical training program, and Colonel Harry Wilson of the 
Army, who has been training bombers in the art of masthead 
bombing for General MacArthur. In that football game, in addi- 
tion to other starring duties, Hamilton and Wilson each made the 
three vital points after touchdown, failure in any one of which 
would have meant defeat for their side. 

Trailing the Army-Navy game at Chicago, were the following 
games : 

1935— Notre Dame, 18; Ohio State, 13. 

1931 — Southern California, 16; Notre Dame, 14. 

1924— Illinois, 39; Michigan, 14. 

1942— Michigan, 32; Notre Dame, 20. 

1939— Iowa, 13; Minnesota, 9. 

1931— Yale, 33; Dartmouth, 33. 

1926— Alabama, 20; Washington, 19 (Rose Bowl) 

1938— Duke, 7; Pittsburgh, 0. 

1939 — Southern California, 7; Duke, 3 (Rose Bowl) 

1935— Southern Methodist, 20; Texas Christian, 14. 

1934— Minnesota, 13; Pittsburgh, 7. 

Fritz Crisler, Michigan coach, named the 1922 Princeton-Chi- 
cago game in Chicago, in which he served as a member of the bench 
as A. A. Stagg's assistant. In this game, after John Thomas had 
won All-American rating by tearing the Tiger line to shreds, the 


The Army-Navy 1926 Football Game 189 

Easterners struck back in the second half to win, 21 to 18. E. H. 
Burnham, Purdue coach, picked the 20-20 Indiana-Purdue tie 
game of 1936. John J. Peri, Stockton Record, was among a num- 
ber going back to another 20-20 game, the Stanford-California 
game of 1924 when "Stanford under Pop Warner scored two 
touchdowns in the last few minutes of play to tie the tiring Bears 
under Andy Smith." Lieutenant Commander Carl G. Olson, Chi- 
cago, was among the host voting for the Chicago Army-Navy 
game. Braven Dyer, Los Angeles Times, took the "1931 Notre 
Dame-Southern California game when Johnny Baker's field goal in 
the final 20 seconds gave sc the game, 16-14, breaking Notre 
Dame's winning streak of 25 straight." Dr. Edward Baker, Car- 
negie Tech coach, picked the 1935 Notre Dame-Ohio State game 
which the Irish won, 18 to 13 in the final seconds on a long pass 
from Bill Shakespeare to Wayne Milner in the end zone. Roy E. 
Tillotson, coach at Franklin College, Franklin, Indiana, rated 
Michigan's 32-to-20 victory over Notre Dame in 1942. "It had 
fine offensive play," he wrote, "as well as good defensive play. All 
types of play were used : straight bucks, fake bucks, spinner bucks, 
spinner and run, spinner and pass, forward passes from tricky 
set-ups ; touchdowns from several types of plays ; excellent punting, 
place kicking, etc. Individual play also was extra fine." 

A. W. Wells, Gainesville, Texas, Register, named the 1935 
Southern Methodist-Texas Christian game which sent "smu to 
the Rose Bowl and tcu to the Sugar Bowl. With the score tied at 
14-14 in the fourth period, Bob Finley threw a long pass to Bobby 
Wilson to win the game, 20-14. That pass was worth $80,000 

to SMU." 

Three teams stood out far ahead of the others in the question 
on the greatest team. They were the Chicago Bears of 1941, Notre 
Dame's Four Horsemen team of 1924, and the Minnesota team of 
1934 led by Pug Lund. The Southern California team of 1931 im- 
pressed many, as did Duke's team of 1938 which was unscored on 
in nine games before being upset by Southern California 7 to 3 in 
the Rose Bowl ; Tennessee's '39 team ; Texas' team of '41 ; Southern 
Methodist's team of '35 which lost in the Rose Bowl game; Ala- 
bama's '25 team which won in the Bowl with Pooley Hubert and 
Johnny Mack Brown starring, and Alabama's '34 team, which won 
in the Bowl on Dixie Howell's passes to Don Hutson. 

Lou Little, Columbia; Andy Kerr, Colgate; and Harry Keck, 

190 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph, were agreed on the Pittsburgh team of 
1916, coached by Pop Warner. William Newton, North Carolina 
State, said: "Tennessee, 1931. McEver, Feathers, Brackett and 
Kohase, backs; line: Rayburn and Derryberry, ends; Saunders 
and Aitken, tackles ; Hickman and Frank, guards ; Mayer, center." 
R. W. Finch, Central Michigan College, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, 
chose the Michigan team of 1925. E. L. Romney, Utah State, said 
the University of' Southern California eleven of 1928. Vernard B. 
Hickey, California Aggies, Davis, California, named the California 
team of 1922. Ray Hahn, Lindsborg, Kansas, took for his greatest 
eleven the Nebraska team of 1922, which was "undefeated and 
whipped Notre Dame, 14 to 0." 

Just as three football teams pulled away from the field, there 
were four football players who stood out by themselves — Red 
Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Jim Thorpe, and Tom Harmon. Sammy 
Baugh, Ernie Nevers and Don Hutson ranked in another distinct 
bracket, followed by George Gipp, Ace Parker, Cliff Battles, Dutch 
Clark, John Kimbrough, Jay Berwanger, George McAfee, Bruce, 
Smith, Whizzer White and Frank Sinkwich. 

Grange fans included: Tom Conley, John Carroll University, 
Cleveland; Paul Stagg, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Thomas 
C. Hayden, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas ; Carl Voyles, 
William and Mary; Ben Greenstein, Wilmington Journal-Every 
Evening; Ward Burris, San Antonio Express 8f News and many 
others. Among those voting for Nagurski were : L. B. Allison, Uni- 
versity of California; A. J. Robertson, Bradley Polytechnic Insti- 
tute; John Magnabosco, Indiana State Teachers College; Jim 
Lookabaugh, Oklahoma A. & M. ; and Dale Stafford, Detroit 
Free Press, Thorpe supporters included: Dr. Clarence W. Spears, 
University of Maryland; Charlie Bachman, Michigan State; 
Henry Frnka, University of Tulsa; and G. E. Gauthier, Ohio 
Wesleyan. Harmon was the choice of: E. H. Sherman, The Citadel; 
E. W. Midgett, Tennessee State; and Walter Hargesheimer, 
Massauchusetts State, among others. 

Jerry Nason, Boston Globe, said Cliff Battles, West Virginia 
Wesleyan and Washington Redskins. Joe Goss, San Pedro News- 
Pilot, cited Commander Tom Hamilton of the Navy in 1926. Tait 
Cummins, Cedar Rapids Gazette, rated Nile Kinnick of Iowa in 
1939. Steele McClanahan, kgbs, Harlington, Texas, nominated 
Wesley Fesler, Ohio State end in 1928. Ken Mercer, University of 

The Army-Navy 1926 Football Game 191 

Dubuque, voted for Duke Slater, Iowa's Negro tackle of 1922. 
Roscoe D. Bennett, Grand Rapids Press, took Earl Martineau, 
Minnesota, '23. "He did everything," he wrote, "punt, pass, run, 
and a giant on defense." Irvin L. Nelson, Huron, South Dakota, 
jspoke for: "John Levi, Haskell, who could do anything and every- 
thing with a football. Great runner and passer as well as one of 
the best kickers who ever put on a uniform." Ralph Bryan, kvcv, 
Redding, California, voted for Harold Pogue of Illinois, who as a 
sophomore in 1913 ran through every team he faced. "To see him 
walking along the street at Urbana," he wrote, "you'd think he 
was a weak-backed grocery clerk. But football did something to 
him. He was a marvel when in uniform." 

H. W. Hughes, Colorado State, said of Dutch Clark : "He made 
a weak team look good at Colorado College, and made a great 
record in professional ball." A. E. Choate, Alabama State Teachers 
College at Troy, said Jarin' Jawn Kimbrough of Texas a.&m., 
who is now a lieutenant in the Army. A. T. Hubert, v.m.i. coach 
and himself a star of the Alabama Rose Bowl victors of '25, 
selected Joe Muha of his own team of last fall. Zipp Newman, 
Birmingham News, and Frank Howard, Clemson, voted for John 
(Hurry) Cain, Alabama's great punter, blocker and bruising run- 
ning back of '32. Henry A. Sullivan, Salem, Massachusetts, News, 
chose Eddie Mahan, Havard's Ail-American fullback of '13, '14 
and '15. Stuart Holcomb, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and 
former Ohio State star, listed Jack Manders of Minnesota. Emmett 
Lowery, Lafayette, Indiana, picked Duane Purvis, Purdue half- 
back. Ted Petoskey, former Michigan end who coaches at Spartan- 
burg, South Carolina, picked another great Wolverine end, Benny 
Oosterbaan, All-American in '25, '26 and '27. Allyn McKeen, 
Mississippi State, and Ab Kirwan, Kentucky, were agreed on Dixie 
Howell of Alabama's '34? team. 

Lew Byrer, Columbus Citizen, wrote of another of the game's 
immortals : 

Chic Harley never received the national credit he deserved because of 
the fact that he played at Ohio State in 1916, 1917 and 1919 — before 
Western Conference and Ohio State football was receiving adequate 
recognition in the east. Chic weighed only 164 pounds. He was a 50- 
yards or better punter, a superb drop-kicker and field goal kicker, a fine 
forward passer and an amazingly deceptive runner. I rate him ahead of 
Grange because of his versatility. Grange might have been a bit better 

192 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

runner, but he couldn't be compared with Harley in the other depart- 

Roland Hughes, Roanoke, Virginia, World-News figured: "Bill 
Dudley of Virginia, and his greatest performance against North 
Carolina on Thanksgiving, 1941, when he scored three touchdowns, 
passed for another and kicked four extra points." R. H. Burbank, 
wbrk, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, named: "A full-blooded Sioux 
Indian, Steve Deloria, St. Stephens College — three years All- 
American small college fullback. Frank J. Stout, Fitchburg, 
Massachusetts, Sentinel, named: "Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, negro- 
Hindu of Syracuse who threw three touchdown passes to nip 
Cornell, 19-17 in 1938. Not long ago Singh was lost in a plane 
crash over Lake Huron." P. A. Lightner, Wichita Eagle, counted 
in: "Mayes McClain, then with Haskell, later with Iowa, making 
eight touchdowns, in one afternoon against Fairmont College. Have 
seen Grange and other greats but they never looked like the In- 

Dewey "Snorter" Luster, University of Oklahoma coach, came 
up with one of the fabulous characters of the past. "Claude Reeds, 
Oklahoma's fullback of 1910—8. He was a superlative blocker, who 
got two or three men on each run, and a fine passer, line-plunger, 
defensive player, and a kicker who once booted 107 yards against 
Texas in 1910 — from his goal to the Texas 3-yard line (field was 
110 long then). Besides, it took 40 freshmen to tie him down in 
a class fight." 

Corporal R. C. Crayne, Camp Crowder, Missouri, former Iowa 
star, named Ace Parker of Duke. Crayne himself had many adher- 
ents. One of his great feats came in the Indiana-Iowa game of 
1934 when he kicked from behind his own goal line and the ball 
crossed Indiana's goal line, giving him credit for a 102-yard punt. 
Max Kase, New York, Journal-American, was among those voting 
for Ernie Nevers. L. B. Icely, Chicago, was one of the George Gipp 

Jeff Cravath, Southern California, came up with : "Ray George, 
an unsung tackle for Southern California in 1936-38. He was 
rugged, and had great football sense, and I consider him one of 
the greatest linemen of all time." 

In the question on the greatest single plays, the plays most 
mentioned were : 

The Army-Navy 1926 Football Game 198 

1. Red Grange's 95-yard runback of the opening kickoff for touchdown 
in the Illinois-Michigan game of 1924. 

2. Andy Uram's 70-yard run-back on a lateral after a punt in the final 
minute to win the Minnesota-Nebraska game of 1936, 7 to 0. 

3. Nile Kinnick's long pass to Bill Green that won the Iowa-Minnesota 
game, 13 to 9 in 1939. 

4. Bill Shakespeare's long pass to Wayne Milner to win the Notre 
Dame-Ohio State game in 1935, 18 to 13. 

5. Doyle Nave's final pass to Al Krueger of Southern California that 
beat Duke in the Rose Bowl game of 1939, 7 to 3. 

6. Johnny Butler's 54-yard punt return for touchdown for Tennessee 
against Alabama, 1939. 

7. Whizzer White's 93-yard run-back of punt for touchdown in 1937 
Utah-Colorado game. 

8. Eric Tipton's punt to 2-yard line in snow that turned Duke- Pittsburgh 
game of 1938. 

9. Long Arnold Herber to Don Hutson pass for Green Bay that beat 
, Chicago Bears, 7 to in 1935. 

10. Brick Muller's 70-yard pass to H. W. Stephens for California 
against Ohio State in 1921 Rose Bowl game. 

V. J. "Vee" Green, athletic director at Drake, gave some par- 
ticulars on the play that was mentioned most frequently : 

The Michigan player kicking off said to the Illinois center: "Where is 
this guy Grange? We want to kick to him." The Illinois center replied: 
"He's right back by the goal posts. Go ahead." Michigan did, and 
Grange returned it 95 yards for a touchdown. Before it was over Grange 
made four more long runs of 67, 56, 44 and 15 yards for touchdowns 
as Illinois won, 39 to 14. 

0. G. Willoughby, Iron Mountain, Michigan, News, told of 
the : "Arnold Herber to Don Hutson 60-yard pass on the first play 
of the Packers-Bears season-opening game in 1935 at Green Bay. 
After catching the pass, Hutson ran 27 more yards for the touch- 
down that gave the Packers the game, 7 to 0." 

Dick Cullum, Minneapolis Times, gave the following beautiful 
description of Andy Uram's famous run: 

There were 68 seconds left to play in the Nebraska-Minnesota game at 
Minneapolis on October 10, 1936. Nebraska had the ball on its 43-yard 
line. During the series of plays leading up to the punt, Fullback Sam 
Francis, Nebraska's best punter, had been removed in favor of Sopho- 

194 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

more Ron Douglas. He punted a high, short one to Bud Wilkinson on 
Minnesota's 28-yard line. It was an easy one to cover and several 
Nebraska men were converging on Wilkinson when he caught the ball 
near the sideline to his left. Wilkinson took the first step or two in a 
fading run to the inside and backward, drawing all the tacklers toward 
him. It was not until one of them had him by one leg and was hauling 
him down that he let the ball go. Uram caught it on the 23-yard line. 
It was unquestionably one of football's finest plays from there on. 
Bernie Bierman has called it the most perfectly executed spur-of-the- 
moment play ever to come to his attention. He insists that every man 
used the maximum of good judgment in every one of the many maneuvers 
involved in clearing the way for Uram who, himself, used perfect judg- 
ment in setting his pace and choosing his course. "It was/' said Bier- 
man, "the only play I've seen which arose spontaneously and reflected 
perfection in every detail." It has often been said, in enthusing over a 
great run carried along by great blocking that "every opposing player 
was on his back" as the runner crossed the goal line. In this play, how- 
ever, this statement is literally true. A careful check of the movies shows 
that, at one stage of the play, every Nebraska player was, in dead truth, 
flat on his back. The fact that this phenomenal and brilliant play decided 
a tough ball game, 7 to in the final minute has helped make it stick. 

Tom Lieb, Florida, named the "Pass by Chris Cagle in the 
Army-Notre Dame game in 1929, which was intercepted by Jack 
Elder of Notre Dame and brought back 98 yards to give Notre 
Dame the game, 7 to and a National championship." O. E. 
"Babe" Hollingberry, Washington State, took Brick Muller's 70- 
yard pass to Stephens, end, for touchdown in the 1921 Rose Bowl 
game with Ohio State." Fred Digby, New Orleans Item, rated: 
"Jack Cannon blocking out three Georgia Tech men for Notre 
Dame on a punt in the 1929 game in Atlanta." 

Leo R. Meyer, Texas Christian coach, settled for : "A trap play 
used by David O'Brien, who after getting through the line, later- 
ailed to Sparks in the TCtr-Rice game of 1938." Robert E. Hooey, 
Ohio State Journal, Columbus, Ohio, picked: "Chic Harley's run 
in deep mud and his kick following for extra point against Illinois 
at Champaign in 1916 to defeat the Illini, 7-6." John O'Donnell, 
Davenport Democrat and Leader, took the late Nile Kinnick's 
great moment in the 1939 Minnesota game. "With two minutes to 
go and trailing, 9 to 7," he wrote, "Nile Kinnick of Iowa shot 
a 35-yard pass to Bill Green, a play on which they had practiced 

The Army-Navy 1926 Football Game 195 

all week, and Bill caught the ball in the end zone for the winning 

Clark Shaughnessy, University of Pittsburgh, chose Kmeto- 
vic's run back of a punt in the 1941 Rose Bowl game with Ne- 
braska, which ended the scoring at 21-13. 

Curiously enough, Glenn Presnell, Nebraska coach, also rated 
Kmetovic's run in the Bowl as the greatest play he had ever seen. 

Harry Stuhldreher, Wisconsin coach, liked best : "The winning 
play in the Wisconsin-Purdue game in 1941. A pass from Halfback 
John Tennant to End Ray Kreick with 6 seconds to go won the 
game 14-13. The extra point was converted by Bob Ray, after the 
gun." Dick Loughrin, kysm, Mankato, Minnesota, rated "Jay Ber- 
wanger's 80-yard run through Ohio State in 1935." Joe Gembis, 
former Michigan star who coaches at Wayne University, told of: 
"William 'Flop' Flora's catching the shortest punt on record. It 
was in the Michigan Navy game at Ann Arbor in 1925. Navy 
kicked from behind her goal line and Flora, Michigan end, caught 
the ball about one foot from the kicker's toe. He had rushed in; 
got the ball in the breadbasket ; hung on to it and scored a touch- 
down, as Michigan won 54-0." 

"One of the most spectacular plays I have ever seen," wrote 
Frank Leahy, Notre Dame coach, "was by Charlie O'Rourke of 
the 1940 Boston College team in the Georgetown game. With one 
and a half minutes left to play B.C. was leading by 3 points, with 
the ball 90 yards from a touchdown, b.c. decided to take an inten- 
tional safety. O'Rourke went into long punt formation, took the 
ball from center in the end zone, and raced back and forth from 
sideline to sideline, in the end zone, for all of 20 seconds before 
he was finally tackled." 

A. Paul Menton, Baltimore Evening Sun, was among many 
who spoke for the deciding play of the 1939 Rose Bowl game, in 
which "Al Kruger caught Doyle Nave's forward pass for the win- 
ning touchdown in the final 30 seconds as u.s.c. beat Duke, 7 to 3. 
I happened to be the umpire." 

E. W. Midgett, coach at Tennessee State College, Murfrees- 
boro, Tennessee, described a great Tom Harmon play in the 1940 
Michigan-Ohio State game, which Michigan won, 40 to 0, as 
follows : 

The formation was unbalanced line to left. Westfall had been receiving 
the ball from center and giving it to Harmon on reverses or else keeping 

196 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

the ball himself and spinning through the line for nice gains. Ohio 
State was terribly over-shifted to stop Harmon on these reverses; so 
on this play Harmon, after receiving the ball from Westfall, turned and 
circled deep and around his own right end, eluding the defensive end 
by his own skill in the open field, and then picked up a line of blockers, 
I think five, from his own left side of the line, who convoyed him over 
the goal-line. You could hear those blocks in the second tier of seats. 

Mill Marsh, Ann Arbor News, told of: "Harmon running £0 
yards across the field, &0 yards back and then 80 yards ahead for 
a touchdown against Penn in 1940." Crisler concurred in this as 
the greatest play he ever saw. 

J. H. Samuel, Augusta Herald, rated this one: 

In the 1921 Georgia- Virginia game at Athens, Puss Whelchel, Georgia 
guard and one of the best in the game, ripped through the line, smeared 
backs and knocked an attempted pass some 15 yards down the field. 
Never slowing up, he caught the ball and ran on for a touchdown. 

C. Kenneth Van Sickle, Ithaca Journal, favored: "Paul 
Governali's desperation pass in the final minute to Halfback Otto 
Apel for a 67-yard scoring play which beat Cornell, 14-13 in 194$ 
at Baker Field, New York." Dwight Marvin, Troy, Observer- 
Budget, recalled: "Arthur Poe's goal from field in the Princeton- 
Yale game of 1899, which won the game 11 to 10 just 26 seconds 
before time was called." Harvey L. Southward, Lynn Item, was 
there the day: "Charlie Brickley drop-kicked five field goals for 
Harvard against Yale in 1913. 

Stubby Currence, Bluefield, West Virginia, Daily Telegraph, 
was among those citing Eric ("Red") Tipton's punting against 
Pitt in the snow at Durham. He picked his "punt out of bounds in 
the coffin corner on the 2-yard line to pave the. way for the blocked 
punt which gave Duke the victory." 

H. E. Collbran, Denver, told of the most famous Whizzer 
White run, as follows: 

Byron (Whizzer) White, caught the kick-off at the opening of the 
third quarter (when the score was 7-0 in favor of Utah over Colorado 
at Salt Lake City in 1937) at the center of the 15-yard line, ran to 
the right slightly in the wrong direction; was almost trapped on the 
5-yard line in the corner of the field; then headed directly for Utah's 
goal through the whole Utah team, for 93 yards. Final Score: Colo- 

The Army-Navy 1926 Football Game 197 

rado University, 17; Utah University, 7- This inaugurated White's sub- 
sequent reputation and was primarily responsible for Colorado that 
year winning the Rocky Mountain Conference. 

E. F. Caraway, Lehigh coach and former Purdue end, told of 
a play : 

In the Harvard-Purdue game in 1927 when Welch passed to Hutton 
for a 60-yard touchdown. The play was a great play to me because: 
Welch, a halfback, was running wild that day. This was his first college 
game and Harvard didn't know anything about the Purdue team. 
Toward the end of the game the defense of Harvard was watching 
Welch very closely, as he faked a sweeping end run to his right, the 
whole Harvard secondary defense rushed to stop him. It seemed that 
he waited just long enough to draw them in, stopped and threw to 
Hutton, the left end, who had streaked down the side-line unnoticed. 

Lieutenant A. J. Yunevich of the Naval Air Station, Lake- 
hurst, New Jersey, told of another great play by Welch : 

In 1931 at Bloomington, Indiana in the Purdue-Indiana game Ralph 
("Pest") Welch, now coach of the University of Washington, ran down 
the side line for 40 yards and without any blocking from his Purdue 
team-mates bowled over three men in making this run. The three men 
were lying some 8 yards apart unable to get up. 

Captain John E. Whelchel, coach at Annapolis, specified the 
Great Lakes touchdown against the Navy in 1918 when a player 
ran out from the bench to try to tackle the ball-carrier. 

E. E. Mylin, Lafayette coach, recalled the play in which 
"Zirinsky of Lafayette intercepted a pass one-handed over his 
head with his back turned, then reversed and went 60 yards through 
West Point to score and win the game in 1940." Floyd Olds, Omaha 
World-Herald, spoke of: 

A Nebraska punt by All- American Ed Weir against Notre Dame on 
Thanksgiving Day, 1925. On the first play after the opening kickoff, 
Weir kicked 66 yards to the Irish 4-yard line. It so jolted the team 
which had lost only to Army, that Nebraska made two quick scores 
and won the game, 17 to 0. 

Royal Brougham, Seattle Tost-Intelligencer, brought up "The 
Gil Dobie 'Bunk Play' thirty years ago, when Quarterback Wee 

198 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Coyle scored for Washington by hiding the ball on his hip so 
effectively that not even the officials knew where it was." Another 
favorite old-time hidden ball play was recalled by Robert E. Har- 
low, Sports Editor Press Association, New York, who mentioned 
the time "when the Indian, Mt. Pleasant, tucked the ball under 
his jersey and ran for a touchdown against Harvard." 
Bob Wilson, Knoxville News-Sentinel, went for: 

The sensational 54-yard run by Johnny Butler, Tennessee halfback, for 
a touchdown against Alabama, October 21, 1939, to start Tennessee off 
to a 21-0 victory. The game attracted such football authorities as Grant- 
land Rice, Francis Wallace, Henry McLemore, Joe Williams, Clarence 
Budington Kelland and others, and they all agreed that Butler's run 
was one of the most spectacular they had ever witnessed. 

Participants in this poll were the public, the sports editors, the 
sportscasters, the football coaches, and the men at Brooks Field, 
Texas, and Enid Army Flying School, Enid, Oklahoma. 

Go When the Going* Is Good 


July, 191$ 

IN the summertime, most outings are planned about the 
nucleus of angling. Approximately one out of every four peo- 
ple in the United States is a fisherman of one sort or another. 
That being the case, and with fishing trips at a premium, intelli- 
gent planning is important. "Fisherman's luck" has always been 
notoriously bad. Why depend on luck to bring you good fishing if 
you don't have to? 

For a pleasant and successful trip, favorable weather is im- 
portant. There are so many reliable sources of information that 
you don't have to guess about the weather these days. The various 
almanacs come pretty close to being right about long-range fore- 
casts. Monthly weather charts, issued by private organizations for 
a modest subscription fee, are remarkably accurate. Governmental 
reports and weather maps are available in every community. There 
is one California company that does an outstanding job of fore- 
casting the weather. This company is subsidized largely by power 
companies and large corporations. If you have access to the data 
they furnish their customers, uncertainty about the weather from 
one month to the next is a thing of the past. 

But long-range forecasting is satisfactory only up to a point 
so far as the fishing is concerned. Extended dry spells with low 
water and protracted wet spells with high water each make for bad 
fishing. Your weather forecasts will spot these for you far enough 
in advance to give plenty of time for making plans. But fish are 
swayed by the merest whims of weather, so that day-to-day and 
hour-to-hour information is often helpful. 

The effect upon the fishing of fluctuations in atmospheric pres- 
sure is now a scientifically established fact. Generally, a "high 
glass" will bring good fishing with it, while a "low glass" means 
poor fishing. But that is not an infallible rule by any means. Far 


200 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

more important is the trend of the glass. If atmospheric pressure is 
increasing so that the "glass is rising," then you are pretty sure to 
have good fishing weather. If the "glass is falling," it's a good idea 
to forget about fishing. An alteration of as little as one or two 
hundredths of an inch in the level of the barometer often will have 
a decided effect upon the feeding habits of fish. Decrease in atmos- 
pheric pressure is nature's warning to wild life that storms are in 
the offing and they stop feeding to find safe cover. 

Lacking a barometer, there are many "signs" that people who 
are closely associated with the outdoors depend upon for their daily 
and hourly weather indicators. A red sunset means clear, hot 
weather, while a red dawn points to rain. Mare's-tails — long, 
wispy clouds across the sky — indicate high winds. A mackerel sky 
is a sign of rain to come soon and we are all familiar with the 
"thunderheads" that give us advance warning of thunder storms 
on summer days. 

Wind direction is a good weather indicator. In various parts of 
the country, wind directions have different meaning. For instance, 
an east wind along the Atlantic seaboard is a forecast of rain, 
while on the west coast it means just the reverse. It is a good idea 
to consult local residents about this before banking too much on 
wind directions. Usually, a change in wind direction, indicating a 
change in the weather, will ruin the fishing for a while at least. 

Dew and fog are used as "signs" by many. A heavy dew on 
the grass in the evening means a clear day tomorrow. A foggy eve- 
ning is regarded by some as a good sign for the next day. 

Perhaps the most deceptive form of weather is what the farmers 
and sailors call a "weather breeder." By that is meant a bright, 
sunny day with a cloudless sky and just enough breeze to be pleas- 
ant. The wind direction may be favorable and all outward indica- 
tions point to perfect weather for fishing yet the fishing will be 
abominable. It is easy to spot a weather breeder if you have a 
barometer, as the glass will drop gradually all day, long before the 
wind or the cloud formations will give you any warning. Lacking 
a barometer, there are several ways to identify the falling glass, 
typical of such a day. 

The character of the wind is an indicator to show what the 
barometer is doing. If the wind is high in the trees so that the 
leaves on the trees stay right side up when they flutter in the breeze, 
then you can be quite sure that the barometer is steady or rising. 

Go When the Going Is Good 201 

On the other hand, if the wind sweeps along the ground, picking 
up the dust and dry leaves and turning the leaves on the trees 
upside down, then you may as well put away your tackle and go 

If there is no wind and the day is calm, listen to the song 
of the birds. Blue jays will be abnormally active and noisy when the 
glass is falling. The "rain song" of a robin will tell you the story. 
If there is no bird song and the woods are quiet, then you are fairly 
safe in assuming that the barometer is dropping. Sea gulls are good 
weather prophets and when you see them flying inland you know 
storms are due, even though the sun shines brightly and the sky 
is cloudless. Even the clarity of the atmosphere will identify a 
weather breeder for you. If you can see great distances clearly 
and with no obstruction by hazy atmosphere, the chances are that 
it will rain soon. At night, your ears and your nose will tell you 
the trend of the glass. Sounds will travel long distances and remain 
unusually distinct if the glass is falling : odors are keener and more 

But there are other elements that enter into the elimination of 
"fisherman's luck" from your plans. If you know in advance what 
the fish are apt to be doing, where they will be and on what they 
will be feeding, then you have a much better chance of finding 
good fishing. 

All fishermen are conversant with the seasons and the laws 
governing the taking of fish. A letter to the Bureau of Fisheries 
at Washington or to the Conservation Department at the capital 
of the state in which you want to fish will bring you such data as 
you will need. If there are questions in your mind about the best 
fishing locations, most of the outdoor magazines maintain Where- 
to-Go Departments. A postcard inquiry will bring you a list of the 
good fishing locations and places to stay by the day, week or 
month. But there is more to it than that. 

Nearly all fish participate in annual migrations or changes in 
habitat. For instance, let us consider the trout in the famous 
streams of the Catskills. During the winter, these fish are concen- 
trated in the "winter holes" of the larger streams and rivers. As 
soon as the ice goes out in the spring there is a partial redistribu- 
tion of the trout as they move, usually upstream, to take up their 
summer residences. A secondary migration takes place a little later 
on when the trout move up out of the big rivers. They travel in 

202 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

large schools, making their leisurely way up the Beaverkill, the 
Willowemock, and the Neversink. 

This migration begins early in April and continues for several 
weeks, sometimes lasting as long as the latter part of May. As the 
schools move up from pool to pool, individuals drop out of the 
procession and the schools become smaller. To be specific, in the 
early season the lower Beaverkill or "Big Beaverkill" is bounti- 
fully supplied with trout. By May 15th, the lower river has lost 
its migrating schools and all that remains is the annual supply of 
individual fish that have dropped out to take up their summer 
homes in the lower pools and runs. Because it flows through a colder 
valley, the migration dates are later in the Neversink. One season 
I followed the progress of a large school of big trout in the Never- 
sink. In the course of a week they moved upstream about six miles. 

Late in the season, when the lower waters of the streams have 
grown warm and the spawning season approaches, there is still a 
third migration, usually of schools of large fish. They migrate 
slowly, moving only at night and feeding mostly at night; conse- 
quently, they are difficult to locate. However, if you are lucky 
enough to find a school of these big fellows, you have a treat in 
store for you. There seems to be no set time for these migrations 
and they evidently are governed by water temperature and flow. 

Movements of bass are just as well regulated as those of trout. 
In the winter they are in deep water, either in hibernation or semi- 
hibernation, sometimes burying themselves in the mud. With the 
spring, they move into the shallows where they spawn, generally 
in water temperatures approximating 67° Fahrenheit. When the 
bass season opens, a large percentage of them are usually living 
in the shallows. At this point, the habits of small-mouth bass and 
large-mouth bass deviate. Large-mouth do not object to high tem- 
peratures and they will be found in the shallows, around the weed 
beds, stumps and logs, all summer long. But the small-mouth like 
temperatures in the high sixties. Thus, they will move to deeper 
water with the advent of summer, only coming to the shallows dur- 
ing the feeding periods. 

We all know that the best fishing for lake trout or togue is 
when the ice first goes out of our lakes in the spring and, again, 
with the arrival of the frosty nights of early fall. Atlantic salmon, 
the sea trout of New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New- 
foundland, the school fish off the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts 

Go When the Going Is Good 203 

all have their migration periods. Local inquiry will tell you what 
you need to know. 

Another item of importance in planning a fishing trip is to 
have some knowledge of the probable dates of the various insect 
hatches in the fishing waters under contemplation. The emergence 
dates of insect hatches remain fairly constant. The famous "shad 
fly" hatch of the Beaverkill takes place about May 12th of each 
year. The "coffin fly" or large May-fly drake has its emergence 
from May 28th to June 7th in the trout streams of the Catskills, 
Poconos and central Pennsylvania. In these localities, the "Quill 
Gordon" hatch takes place on or about April 22nd and while this 
hatch is drifting you will often find the finest dry-fly fishing of the 
year. The "fish fly" (May-fly drake) hatch of Michigan comes in 
early July closely followed by the Caddis hatch, during which the 
Michigan night fishermen come into their own. About this time 
comes the helgramite hatch in the streams of Yellowstone Park 
when the trout run wild in a feeding orgy that lasts all day. 

There is evidence that the moon has a lot to do with fishing. 
Discarding all of the superstitions about the moon and its effects, 
there are some cold, hard facts to consider. 

For generations, the belief has been common among fishermen 
that fish feed more actively during the dark of the moon (new 
moon) and the first quarter. Let us see just how this idea works 
out in actual practice. From time to time, reports of record catches 
of fish are sent to me — huge catches, such as 200 brook trout in 
three hours, 101 small-mouth bass in four hours, and so on. (I 
hasten to add that all but a few of these two catches were returned 
to the water unharmed.) 

I suppose that in the last seven years I have looked over the 
details of two hundred such catches. With only three exceptions, 
each and every one of the phenomenal catches that have come to my 
attention was made during the dark of the moon and between the 
hours of eleven in the morning and four in the afternoon; right 
during the hot, midday hours of June, July and August, when 
most anglers knock off for a nap in the shade. In the dark of the 
moon, the moon is directly overhead in the middle of the day and 
directly underfoot at midnight. "South moon under" is what the 
Georgia and Florida market hunters used to call it and that was 
when they made their big monthly kills of fish and game. 

Early morning and late evening are always good times to fish 

204 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

in fresh-water streams and lakes. Yet, strangely enough, almost 
no record catches are taken at dawn and dusk when the great ma- 
jority of fresh-water fishing is done. 

Another belief, having to do with the moon, is that fish feed 
more actively when the moon is closest to the earth — "in perigee" 
is the astronomical name for it. Conversely, it is believed that the 
fish are least active when the moon is farthest away from the 
earth — "in apogee." This belief also has an underlying basis of 
scientific fact. While the effect is not as pronounced as that of the 
dark of the moon, it is there, none the less. 

There is more, much more, that we have to learn of the weather 
and of the habits of fish. Even so, we have enough accurate infor- 
mation to enable us to plan our trips intelligently. 

Suppose you are planning to spend a week in northern Ver- 
mont. Being a fresh-water fisherman, you probably will want to 
get some trout and bass fishing. 

The almanac shows that a stormy period is scheduled for the 
Eastern states from June 24th to 27th. In Vermont, most of your 
fishing will be done in lakes so you won't need to worry about high 
water. Usually a spell of stormy weather does more harm to lake 
fishing before it arrives than when it is present. The almanac shows 
that a spell of fair weather immediately follows this stormy period, 
probably giving you a week of pretty fair fishing weather in all. 

There having been no hot spells in June (at least, none are 
scheduled in the almanac) the trout fishing should still be reason- 
ably good. The trout, and the bass, will move out of the shallows 
as soon as hot weather arrives but the water in the northern Ver- 
mont lakes warms slowly in the spring. 

Experience has shown that the annual hatch of May-fly drakes 
should emerge during the last week in June. Both the trout and 
the bass feed actively to that hatch of insects and the hatch lasts 
for about a week as a rule. So much for the food question. 

As to the moon, the dark of the moon is scheduled for the 13th 
and the first quarter for the 21st. But the moon is in apogee on 
the 13th — farthest away from the earth. In addition, the almanac 
predicts unsettled weather with thunderstorms for the entire pe- 
riod. On the other hand, the moon is in perigee on the 28th and full 
moon is set for the same day. The sun and moon being about in line 
during full moon, you should get good fishing around midday. The 

Go When the Going Is Good 205 

chances seem best for the week beginning Saturday, June 27th, and 
ending Sunday, July 5th. 

Thus, for northern Vermont you can apply the rules of weather, 
moon and the habits of fish. "Fishermen's luck" has been elim- 
inated, at least in part. Your day-to-day rules will see you through 
during your week at camp. You can apply the same formula to any 
section of the country. 

Of course, there is no such thing as a sure-fire guide to good 

Too many factors enter into the problem to allow any guaran- 
tees for a full creel every time you go. But, of this much you can 
be sure. If you follow the rules and plan your fishing trips intelli- 
gently, you are almost certain to find the best sport that each day, 
week or month of the fishing season has to offer you. In other words, 
go when the going is good. 

Football s Firth Column 


March, 19^1 

Every now and again one of those made-to-order fiction 
dramas becomes a reality. The understudy does get a chance 
to play Juliet, and promptly sets the critics so a-raving 
that managers bid frantically against one another for her contract ; 
or the scrub who has been growing a set of bench callouses for 
three football years, and who is sent in by a desperate coach during 
the final minutes of play when all seems lost save honor, actually 
wins the game for Dear Old Siwash. 

That is what happened on November 6, 1937, in Tulane Sta- 
dium at New Orleans. Contenders were those ancient pelagic rivals, 
Tulane's Green Wave and Alabama's Crimson Tide. In spite of 
the fact that both had thus far come through the season unbeaten, 
Alabama was a top-heavy favorite, being coached by the veteran 
Frank Thomas and having rolled over its other opponents with ap- 
parent ease, while Tulane, where young Lowell "Red" Dawson was 
still a yearling as head coach, had once or twice barely scratched 
through to victory. 

But the underdogs put up a superb battle. In fact, Tulane was 
the first to score. Alabama did not push over her only touchdown 
until the third period. Neither team converted for the extra point, 
and in the gathering dusk two battered elevens pounded wearily 
away at one another to break that surprising 6-6 tie. Alabama, 
whose chances for a bowl bid depended on an "unbeaten and un- 
tied" record, was approaching a condition which it would be a bald 
understatement to describe as frantic. 

The ball was in 'Bama's possession near the west boundary on 
Tulane's 24-yard line when Thomas, snatching at a desperate rem- 
edy for a desperate situation, sent into the game Haywood "Sandy" 
Sanford, a substitute end. Only three minutes of playing time 


Football's Fifth Column 207 

remained. The one wild chance of breaking the deadlock was to try 
for a field goal. Prospects were undeniably not bright. Leader of 
a forlorn hope, the kicker would have to stand on the 32-yard line, 
and the angle of approach still further reduced the chances of 

The ball sailed back from center. Tulane's defense surged for- 
ward, but blockers held back that charge long enough for Sanford, 
the unconsidered sub, to kick himself into football fame and Ala- 
bama into a bowl invitation. The game ended a few moments later 
with the score: Alabama 9, Tulane 6. 

Among all the thousands who witnessed the dramatic denoue- 
ment, only a handful noticed that the play was illegally executed. 
Coaches, spectators, officials and players failed to see a detail on 
the basis of which the score should have been voided and the ball 
sent back to Alabama with a 5-yard penalty to boot. The only 
observers who did not miss this detail were the "scouts" from other 
colleges and universities whose teams would be called upon to meet 
Alabama or Tulane later in the season. 

From their point of vantage high in the stands that group of 
lynx-eyed watchers saw at once that the decisive play was being 
carried through with only six men in the line of scrimmage instead 
of the required seven. That left four men in the backfield to pro- 
tect the kicker instead of only three to block the opposition's 
charge, which measurably increased the kicker's chances of suc- 

Vernon Sharpe, scouting Alabama's play for Vanderbilt, 
started the gossip after the game by cheerfully telling newspaper- 
men and representatives of both coaching staffs about the illegality 
of the crucial play. Motion pictures of the game were checked the 
following day, and it was found Sharpe and his fellow scouts were 
right to the fifth decimal place. 

Apparently what happened was this: Sanford, an end, was 
called to the backfield to kick. One of the halfbacks was supposed 
to move up into the line of scrimmage in his stead, to comply with 
the seven-man regulation. In the tense excitement of the moment 
this halfback stepped only a pace or two forward, turned half right, 
and crouched, ready to block from that position. The situation 
obtained for certainly not more than a second before the ball was 
snapped. But in that second, the almost photographic power of 
observation by which football scouts earn their eagle feathers, had 

208 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

unerringly registered what players, officials, and all others had 

Of course, nothing could be done about it. The game still stands 
as an Alabama victory and a Tulane heartbreak. The incident is 
here cited not to open old wounds, but to illustrate the uncanny 
power of instant observation which the good scout has trained him- 
self to develop. The unsung blocking back, clearing a path for 
the sensational brilliance of the runner who gets all the glory, has 
fong been made a sympathetic figure of romance. But what of the 
scout, who paves the way for the coach's loudly acclaimed strategy, 
who makes offense and defense preparation possible, and whose 
name is rarely heard in connection with the paeans which hail a 
victorious season? 

Usually the scout is an assistant coach or a former letter man. 
Although by present and past connection he is heart and soul con- 
cerned with the football destinies of Dear Old Siwash, he rarely 
gets a chance to see his team play because, come Saturday, he's out 
watching River Falls Normal, Stanford, Ohio State, Navy or Slip- 
pery Rock Teachers, or whatever other team Siwash will have to 
face next week or the week after that. 

Football scouting has become something of a reasonably exact 
science. Like any other science, it rests upon a foundation of the 
accuracy of human observation. Major universities recognize it 
today as a legitimate feature of football competition. They have 
developed statistical brochures, complete with questionnaires and 
blank diagrams, known as scout books, in which the scouts make 
exhaustive reports on the team they have under observation. They 
reserve places in their stadia for scouts from other universities and 
render them every proper facility to aid them in their work. Indeed, 
they frequently reserve two seats for this or the other scout. Henry 
Frnka, for example, assistant coach and chief scout for Temple 
University, dictates to Mrs. Frnka a running fire of comment as 
he watches a game, and later makes up his scout report from her 

It was not always thus. In the "old" days, which means any- 
thing more than four college generations in the past, scouting was 
classed as espionage. Scouts parked themselves with binoculars on 
hilltops or in trees overlooking the practice fields, or in the upper 
windows or on the rooftops of advantageously situated apartment 
buildings. Students organized vigilante squads to ferret out and 

Football's Fifth Column 209 

punish the work of such fifth columnists *when discovered and 
within reach, scouts were at times subjected to a barrage of over- 
ripe market produce and other forms of rough handling. Since 
little or nothing could be done in urban centers about window or 
roof-top watchers, it was not uncommon in those days for a team 
to take the field on Saturday without ever having executed any of 
its real plays anywhere but on the wooden floor of a closely guarded 

There used to be a good story which was printed, played or 
screened in one form or another through all the years from Merri- 
well to MGM. That was the tale of the black-hearted dastard who, 
in order to win his wagers, stole Harvard's signals and slipped them 
to the Yale coach. He was so inevitably foiled that one wonders he 
never grew discouraged; for though fiction records no single in- 
stance in which his skullduggery succeeded, the unprincipled but 
obviously wacky blackguard went blandly on, year after year, hope- 
fully stealing the signals of the opposing team for the fall issues of 
the thrill magazines. 

Any one who tried to hand a football coach the opposition's 
signals today would be run off the lot so fast he'd scorch his heels. 
Ethical considerations aside — and football coaches are fully as 
scrupulous in this regard as any other class of human beings — 
any coach who tried to base his team's play on a full knowledge of 
the other team's signals, would be entitled to a barbed-wire dunce 

A football team uses approximately thirty-five plays, each dis- 
tinguished by its signal. Experience has shown that this is about 
the maximum cargo an average player can safely retain through 
the stresses of a competition based on violent bodily contact which 
inevitably brings in its train a marked ascendancy of emotion 
over logic. In fact, even with no more than thirty-five plays to 
remember, it is probable that not half a dozen games have been 
played in the entire history of football during which at least one 
man on at least one team has not muffed the signal for at least 
one play. 

Now: Doable this portable maximum of thirty-five plays by 
adding to it the thirty-five signals and plays of the opposition team, 
giving the already fully burdened home boys only a week to take 
on the additional load. The result would be an upswing in the 

210 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

strait- jacket industry which would make the radio boom of 1924 
look like the panic of 1873. 

That's one point. Here's another: Let's grant that a team of 
superminds mastered and retained for use in one game all the 
signals for both sides. On the first play — a rather tricky reverse, 
let us say — the opposition coach would see_eleven men sweep unani- 
mously not toward their regular assignments, but to the one focal 
point where his ball carrier will theoretically cross the line of scrim- 
mage. Under those circumstances, even the bronze bust of the 
Founder before the ivied portals of Sirloin Hall would realize at 
once that something was un-good in Denmark. Thenceforth his 
players would first whisper the true signal in the guarded sanctity 
of the huddle; another signal, just loud enough for the opposition 
to overhear, would follow ; the defenders would thereafter converge 
on the wrong point, and the road to the Promised Land would be 
as invitingly wide open as a Prohibition speakeasy. In other words, 
the team of superminds would have gone to a great deal of trouble 
to saddle upon themselves still another big handicap. 

So the acquisition of signals from the other side is out, and 
forms no part of the scout's task. By mutual agreement, the taking 
of slow-motion pictures, which could be run off over and over 
again, enabling a coach to study in the most minute detail the 
offensive and defensive tactics of the opposition, is also barred. But 
whatever a scout can observe from the public stands on game day, 
whatever he can learn from just what you or I or any one else pay- 
ing the requisite admission fee (plus tax) would see of the team's 
play, is his and welcome. As already pointed out, he doesn't even 
have to pay for his tickets. Theoretically, he sees no more than we 
do. Actually, he sees a great deal more. Otherwise he could not 
begin to fill in with replies the amazing questionnaire embodied in 
his scout book. 

Here, as an instance, are specimen questions from such a form : 

"What is the stance of the feet (which forward and which back- 
ward) of each individual lineman oh offense and defense? Do they 
change such stance occasionally to execute particular plays? Do 
they as a rule step first with the rear foot, or take a short step first 
with the forward foot? (Particularly on defense, but get on offense 
also if possible. Particularly note which foot the center has forward 
on his offensive stance.)" 

As trivial and ordinarily unconsidered a detail as these once 

Football's Fifth Column 211 

launched a three-year All- American career. This was in 1929, the 
year that first brought home to Eastern sports writers the realiza- 
tion that a pretty fair brand of football was being played south of 
the Mason-Dixon line. That was when the University of Georgia 
beat Yale. Two weeks later a flock of the Eastern scribes came 
marching down to Georgia for a week-end of football. Two games 
were scheduled: Tulane against the Yale-conquering team of the 
University of Georgia, and Notre Dame against Georgia Tech. 
In order to make it possible for all hands to see both games, the 
Tulane-Georgia joint debate was set for Friday afternoon at 
Columbus; the Notre Dame-Tech soiree for Saturday at Athens. 

In the minds of most Eastern writers, Tulane would be little 
more than a pushover for the team that had vanquished Yale. But 
Tulane had been sending out Lester Lautenschlaeger to look the 
Bulldogs over. A former Tulane captain, and generally rated one 
of the best scouts in America to this day, Lautenschlaeger had 
observed one detail of the Georgia play which probably not a dozen 
other spectators caught. 

Georgia used a single wing-back formation on offense. On 
ordinary line plays, when the ball carrier was to head for the long 
side of the line, the fullback and halfback stood even with each 
other; but when the play was a reverse, the fullback stood six or 
eight inches farther back than his team mate, since this made the 
cross-over easier. Nowadays most fullbacks always stand in this 
position, regardless of how the play is going, largely because of 
what happened in Columbus on Friday, November 1, 1929. 

Having checked this detail in three games, Lautenschlaeger 
made his report. The net result was that Jerry Dalrymple, Tu- 
lane's greatest right end, then a sophomore playing his first year of 
varsity competition, spent most of the afternoon in the Georgia 
backfield. If the play was headed toward Dalrymple's end, he 
stayed where he belonged. But if the Georgia quarterback, dis- 
couraged by the reception, sent the play toward the other end, 
there Dalrymple was again, clear on the other side of the de- 
fensive line, backing his team mate, Jack Holland, and making the 
Georgia runners very unhappy. Tulane won by a score of 21 to 
14, coming from behind twice to achieve the victory. 

The Eastern scribes were loud in their praise of Dalrymple's 
uncanny play diagnosis, evidenced by his unorthodox work as what 
they called a "roving end." Yet there was nothing uncanny about 

212 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

it. He merely looked to see where the Georgia fullback was stand- 
ing. This alone would not have been enough to make him an Ail- 
American, of course. He had to be a great athlete in addition ; and 
he was. But the incident did serve to focus upon him the attention 
of Eastern sports writers for the balance of his three years of play, 
and he was an All- American selection in all three years, whereas 
otherwise he might have gone unnoticed, as has been the case with 
many another brilliant player in the less publicized football sections 
of the land. 

Incidentally, on top of Georgia's defeat by Tulane, Tech lost 
the next day's game to Notre Dame, in good part because Rockne 
could and did wear down the Tech squad with his apparently end- 
less supply of reserves. As a result, there was more desolation in 
Georgia that week-end than there had been since Sherman called it 
a day at Savannah, most of it due to the fact that a football scout 
had noticed an eight-inch difference in the placing of a fullback's 
feet on one particular play. 

Few laymen realize that a great deal of effective scouting is 
done before the game, during the few minutes of practice that 
precede the actual contest, or that during the game most of the 
scout's attention is centered on the defensive setup of the team 
he has under observation. The reason is simple enough. If he's 
worth beans as a scout he already knows the general offensive 
formation of the team he's to watch. He and the other coaches 
likewise know just about what offense tactics to expect from, let 
us say, a Notre Dame attack. Besides, no coach is as much inter- 
ested in the opponent's offense as in their defense. The tightest 
defense in the world will score no points for the defenders. A team 
must attack to win. How to attack to best advantage depends on 
the other side's defensive measures ; not on their offense. 

Moreover, the character of any team's attack depends too much 
on the particular game being played, while the character of their 
general defense formations does not. A scout who is looking Dart- 
mouth over on the afternoon of the Princeton game, knows he'll 
see Dartmouth with all the chips on the table; but the Princeton 
game comes so late in the Dartmouth season that only the one or 
two teams still on the schedule can take advantage of the situation. 
On the other hand, early in the season, the good scout who is pre- 
paring to watch the Big Green in action against Lawrence or 
Hampdon-Sydney, knows perfectly well he will not see much Dart- 

Football's Fifth Column 213 

mouth offensive stuff. In fact, he's not likely to see many of the 
Dartmouth first stringers in action. But he will see the entire team, 
first stringers and all, during practice just before the game starts. 

In addition to this, some teams are extremely difficult to scout 
accurately during the game itself because of the so-called razzle- 
dazzle from which they achieve their ultimate attack formations. 
Outstanding in this respect have been the Southern Cal boys of 
Howard Jones. They would trot around in a circle — the famous 
Jones "squirrel cage" — while calling signals, and then go into a 
preliminary huddle from which they shift once, sometimes twice, 
and occasionally three separate times before putting a ball into 
play. This goes on in a stadium within which it would almost be 
possible for Monaco to defend its territorial integrity. Trying at 
those distances to sort out numbers, players and stances from such 
dizzy evolutions is just as easy as following the individual move- 
ments of a formation of eleven black bass in the upper reaches of 
the Niagara Rapids. 

Most experienced scouts make it a point to get to College Town 
the day before the game. Frequently the newly arrived visitor 
spends some time in one of the newspaper offices, going through 
press accounts and photographs of the team's previous games that 
season. This will familiarize him with the general style of their 
play, and with the names and positions of those outstanding players 
who most need careful watching. Then he buckles down to the job 
of memorizing the names and numbers of every man on the squad. 
Next afternoon, if he happens to notice something about the play 
of Number 4& which might be important, he won't have time to 
consult the list for Number 4$'s identity. Moreover, knowing the 
numbers, he'll be able to concentrate on the outstanding players 
without wasting time on some big scrub whose size and demeanor 
in practice are impressive, but whose chances of getting into a 
tight game are somewhat less than submarginal. 

And he talks with people; with chance-met acquaintances at 
the hotel cigar stand, with knots of students, with elevator opera- 
tors, with any one who'll enter a conversation. No telling what bit 
of knowledge may thus be gleaned about the prospective ineligibil- 
ity of a star back, or a pulled tendon that is being kept very secret, 
or even about bad feeling between coach and players. Indeed, on 
one occasion, a taxi-driver's casual remark to a scout practically 
decided the outcome of a major game the following week. Little 

214? Esquire's First Sports Reader 

dreaming of the import of his words, this driver chattily confided, 
en route to the stadium, that a famous All- American tackle had 
been breaking training all season. After all, why not? Opposing 
teams stayed away from his section of the line so much that he 
could practically loaf through a game without special effort. For 
nearly three years scout reports about this player had been vir- 
tually unanimous, reading approximately: 

"Doe, John. No. 73. Weight 245, 6' 3", rugged, fast, tough 
to handle defensively, leads plays well, difficult for any two ordi- 
nary men to take out, one of the greatest tackles in the country 

Offensive strategy by opposition teams therefore had adopted 
what amounted practically to a cardinal rule, which was: "Keep 
the Attack Away from Doe." This is no exaggeration. There are 
such players in every year. 

The taxi-driver's gossipy remark was brought back by the 
scout to his coach, who promptly built an attack directed primarily 
right at Doe's position. The following Saturday afternoon, play 
after play was sent at the big fellow from the opening whistle on. 
It took only about ten minutes of that sort of hammering to wear 
him out, due to his lack of conditioning. The greatest player in 
the world can't take sixty minutes of steady pounding in one after- 
noon when he's been hitting the night spots two or three times a 
week all season. And after Doe was sent to the side lines, tuckered 
and panting, the home team had a field day, for Doe's brethren 
were not organized to cover weaknesses on Doe's side of the line. 
Thus a chance bit of gossip turned what had previously been at 
best a doubtful contest into a rather one-sided victory. 

With all the information he can accumulate from newspaper 
files, program notes and gossip, the scout goes early to the stadium 
the next afternoon and takes his seat as high as he can, preferably 
near one of the end zones. You couldn't hire an experienced scout 
to occupy one of the coveted "near the field on the fifty yard line" 
seats. In the nature of things, he has to be where he can really see 
what's going on. Frequently, when there are end-zone stands, he 
sits there by preference for at least part of the game, for it is 
easier to analyze plays that are coming toward the observer than 
plays that are running past him. Particularly is this true when it 
comes to the task of spotting the exact positions occupied by each 
player on defense, and the angles at which he charges. 

Football's Fifth Column 215 

And now the scout goes to work in earnest. As already indi- 
cated, the ten or fifteen minutes of practice before the game make 
up a fertile field of observation. Here he first checks every member 
of the team for size, conformation, speed, passing and kicking 
ability as a matter of course, filling in the proper places in his 
questionnaire, or contenting himself with fragmentary notes to be 
elaborated, later. 

Sometimes, in addition, he checks every detail of individual 
physical appearance, down to the way the uniform is worn or the 
ankles are taped. This is because some coaches try to put a phys- 
ical counterpart of the opposition team into the field as practice 
opponents during the week preceding a game. Where the next team 
to be encountered has a big man, a big scrub will be placed; where 
it has a guard whose right ankle and calf are heavily taped, a scrub 
will be taped in identically the same fashion ; where a backfield man 
wears a nose-protecting wire mask, a scrub will be given such a 
mask. All week before the game with Exhaust Normal, Siwash will 
thus practice against Exhaust Normal's offense, defense and coun- 
terpart, so that by Saturday afternoon they will be on familiar 
ground when meeting the Exhaust Normal regulars. Indeed, some 
coaches go so far as to give scrubs or freshmen the names of the 
Exhaust Normal players they represent, using those names on the 
field all week. 

The scout then turns his attention to the boys who are kicking 
and passing. He notes the yardage of each practice punt by each 
man. On the basis of those notes, if they should reveal that Ex- 
haust has only one really dangerous punter, Siwash will be able to 
take a lot more chances with her safety man as a linebacker when 
that one Exhaust man is out of the game. How many steps does 
each man take before he kicks? That will determine whether the 
Siwash forwards shall try to harry, and possibly block the kicker, 
or whether their bet would be to let him kick while they concentrate 
on providing adequate blocking for a substantial punt return. Does 
he rock back before stepping forward to kick? Watch out! He's 
a potential quick-kicker. 

Similar observations are made of the boys who are throwing 
forward passes in pre-game practice. How many of them are ac- 
curate to a menacing degree? Naturally, if the boy doesn't come 
within hailing distance of his receiver in practice, he's not much to 
be feared in actual competition, and the pass defense can be reor- 

216 Esquire's First Sports Reader. 

ganized accordingly during the game, depending upon what Ex- 
haust Normal players are in the line-up at the moment. In other 
words, secondaries can be moved closer as line-pluggers when a 
poor pass-thrower is handling the job for the other side, making 
possible, in turn, a much tighter defense against power plays. 

Finally, the referee's whistle starts the game itself. How does 
Exhaust Normal kick off? How many men to the right of the 
kicker, how many to the left? Do they block man for man, and 
could Siwash cross them up by having its own linesmen cross over 
on the kick-off? Are tacklers blocked at once or do interferers drop 
back and then block? Do they use cross blocking? A wedge? Do 
the halfbacks receiving the ball run straight up the sidelines or 
converge toward center? 

Once the ball is in play, a host of other questions await an ac- 
curate answer. At what angles do the guards charge? Above all, 
is it a sliding line on defense? — that is, do the defensive linesmen 
move sidewise in mid-charge with the apparent direction of the 
attacking play, or do they charge straight through? If so, will it 
be possible to counter with a "mouse trap," in which a dangerous 
linesman is deliberately allowed to go through, only to be cut down 
by a backfield blocker from the side, or by a guard who has been 
pulled out of the opposite section of the line for that purpose. 
Have any of the ends a tendency to drift? If so, sooner or later, 
the drifter may be found so far to one side that the theoretical 
"cup of defense" that is built to halt an attack will develop a weak 
opening at that point through which a well-directed attack can 
stream into open territory. 

Are there any unusual offensive plays? This is left for the last 
because it is of much the least importance. A really unusual play is 
like a magician's illusion. It loses its effectiveness the moment it has 
once been exposed. A few cabalistic lines, curves, wiggles, crosses 
and series of dots added to a prepared diagram of standard offense 
formations will serve to fix the details of almost any play in a 
scout's memory. Ordinarily he needs to watch only about four men 
on such a play. Knowing what they did, he likewise pretty well 
knows what every other man on the squad must have been doing 
while all that was going on. 

As an occasional last step in winding up his task, the scout may 
jask permission to talk to some of the boys who have been playing 
against the team he has been watching, though this rarely brings 

Football's Fifth Column 217 

to light any valuable contribution to the store of information al- 
ready in his possession. 

Most scouts are fond of telling on themselves the story of how 
they went into the dressing room of the little college team that has 
just taken a dreadful shellacking from a big university squad in 
one of the early season "warm-up" games of the schedule. 

"Can you tell me anything about So-and-so's play that would 
help our boys when we go up against him?" he asks an end who 
has just been knocked all around the lot by the big blocking back 
concerning whom information is sought. 

"Why that big lug hasn't got a thing in this world," indig- 
nantly replies the boy whom So-and-so has been taking neatly out 
of play all afternoon. "He couldn't block a sick butterfly out of a 
flower patch." 

With all the source material thus in hand, the scout report is 
written up in detail that same night, and is in the hands of the 
Siwash coach by Sunday, whenever possible. Monday night, judi- 
cious excerpts from the report are read to the entire Siwash team, 
to an accompaniment of chalk-talk diagrams. If the Siwash coach 
happens to be a literalist, a squad of scrubs or freshmen is then 
disguised as the Exhaust Normal team, and is thus used to scrim- 
mage against the Siwash regulars for the rest of the week. 

The final quarterback session is held Friday night. Such private 
conferences have been in progress all week, to acquaint the Siwash 
field generals with information which, for one reason or another, 
is regarded as confidential. For instance, if Exhaust Normal has 
one of those invincible All- Americans in her line, it wouldn't do to 
let the Siwash linesmen who will play opposite him hear a coach 
tell his quarterbacks not to run any plays against So-and-so be- 
cause he's "too tough for our boys to handle." That would be a bit 
too discouraging. Such special details of the plan of attack are 
therefore confided only to the quarterbacks, who run the team 
all week in practice along the lines thus laid down. 

The Friday night session winds it up. By that time, the scout 
is already out of town on his next assignment, so that he'll not even 
see the laboratory test which demonstrates whether or not his job 
has been well done. Not that such a demonstration necessarily 
furnishes conclusive evidence. 

Take in 1931, which was Bierman's first year at Minnesota. 
The Gophers weren't expected to perform too many miracles in 

218 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

that initial season, but it was hoped they'd make at least a creditable 
showing, particularly against Wisconsin. Red Dawson, Bierman's 
backfield coach, himself only one year out of college, was assigned 
the job of scouting Wisconsin. He didn't find many weaknesses, but 
he reported that "they have a tendency to over-shift when there 
is a flanker out against them." 

A flanker is usually a halfback, who is sent far out to one side, 
beyond the end, on certain special offense formations. Naturally, 
the defensive end drifts toward the flanker, as does the rest of his 
line, and perhaps a secondary, to be prepared for eventualities. 
This drift was what, in Dawson's opinion, the Badgers were over- 

Bierman pondered the possibilities and came up for air with a 
play that might- be good for a touchdown if all went well. Instead 
of sending out a halfback as flanker, he sent out one of his ends, 
hoping the other team might not notice that, in spite of the flanker, 
there were still four men in the Minnesota backfield. The ensuing 
play was a feint toward the strong side, with a reverse which sent 
the runner, with full interference, toward the weak side, left un- 
guarded by the Badger over-shift. 

The score was tied when Minnesota's quarterback called his 
play. One touchdown for the Gophers, under the circumstances, 
might well mean victory. In any event, it would almost guarantee 
no worse than a tie. Everything worked out to the proverbial gnat's 
eyebrow. Not noticing that the Minnesota flanker was a linesman 
Wisconsin over-shifted. Minnesota's right half, Bill Pronitt, al- 
ready in motion when the ball finally reached him on reverse, bored 
through to the left, as his blockers cleared the too thinly guarded 
path, and shook into the clear without another menace between him 
and Wisconsin's goal. Then he slipped on the treacherous going 
and fell. Wisconsin finally pushed over a score and Minnesota 
thus lost the game by a single touchdown. 

Naturally, no such illustration is needed to point the moral 
that scouting alone cannot win football games. In the last anal- 
ysis, that's done on the gridiron turf by the players f Nevertheless, 
given two teams of approximately equal training and ability, the 
one which has the services of the best scout will normally win. That's 
about as far as it goes. But considering the fact that the scout gets 
none of the acclaim, that's far enough. 

Dorais tke Mikity Mite 


October, 191>3 

For three weary years Fred L. Mandel, Jr., the president 
and chief stockholder (total investment $400,000) of the De- 
troit Lions, wasn't a lion at all. 

Rather, he was a human bird dog attempting to flush Charles 
E. (Gus) Dorais from the University of Detroit campus to the 
head coaching job of his team. Having succeeded, congratulations 
were being accepted by Mandel from fellow owners and the coaches 
of the other National Football League clubs. 

"Just think of the publicity Dorais will get," enthused Jimmy 
Conzelman, the sporting world's one-man circus and a fellow who 
can grasp the content of a 60-point headline at 60 paces. "Dorais 
threw passes to Rockne, didn't he? And in football that's com- 
parable to making touchdown pegs to St. Peter." 

So Gus Dorais, the 145-pound Notre Dame quarterback whose 
overhand forward pass changed football from a pushing and tug- 
ging mass game to the present open style, is rejoining the profes- 
sionals after eighteen years at the University of Detroit. 

Dorais had six years of professional football experience as a 
player before and immediately after World War I. The career was 
terminated under circumstances that were abrupt, if not pleasant. 

Massillon, Ohio, was playing Canton in one of the blood-and- 
thunder games of the early professional era and Gus accidentally 
tripped Jim Thorpe when the big Indian was racing for a punt. 
Jim skidded along on his nose for some yards and when he finally 
stopped said, "Ugh!" 

A few minutes later Dorais was arising from a pileup of players 
when something hit him. The next day the Massillon team physican 
told him it was Thorpe, and not a derailed express train. Also that 
a kidney had been injured and his football playing days were 


220 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

"I shudder every time I see that guy," remarks Dorais who en- 
counters Thorpe frequently now that big Jim is a Detroiter. 

In retrospect the Dorais football career is a glorious thing but 
it certainly didn't start that way back in September, 1910, when he 
arrived at South Bend, Indiana, from his home at Chippewa Falls, 
Wisconsin. At the gymnasium the late Frank C. (Shorty) Long- 
man, former Michigan star who was then Notre Dame's coach, made 
a sarcastic remark about Gus's stature — or lack of it. 

Undaunted Dorais went to the room assigned him and there 
found the boy who was to be his roommate throughout college — 
Knute Rockne. After confiding to each other that they were with- 
out funds, the boys shook hands and agreed to proceed from scratch 
as a two-man team. From this handshake the whole game of foot- 
ball was revolutionized. 

A source of income wasn't long in arriving and by opening the 
window Dorais and Rockne let opportunity in — and out, too. Their 
dormitory room was the only one in the building located in the 
basement and there was a convenient window adjacent to the 
ground. Fellow students were told of and conveniently permitted 
to use the opening as an after-hours exit and entrance at the rate 
of twenty-five cents a head. 

Dorais received no more attention in the early stages of foot- 
ball drill than he did on the first visit to the gymnasium. In fact 
the uniform Notre Dame furnished one of its football immortals 
was so large that Gus finally sent home and got the outfit he wore 
in high school. 

At the time, forward passing was frowned on and teams em- 
ployed aerials only when they were hopelessly behind in the score. 
Standard practice was to throw the ball either underhand, or end 
over end. 

Now Dorais was a winning baseball pitcher and had adapted 
the overhand throw of the diamond to football. The introduction 
of this type of pass by Dorais drew ridicule. Coach Longman as- 
serted Gus' passes were next to worthless because they would fail 
on a rainy day when the football was thoroughly soaked. 

To prove the point, Longman placed a ball in a bucket of 
water for an hour and then presented it to Dorais. Gus continued to 
throw the ball with accuracy, Longman's neck became fiery red 
and a few weeks later Dorais was the regular quarterback of a 
team that was to lose only one game that season and none in the 

Dorais, The Mighty Mite 221 

next three years. The Dorais passing method was the same one 
used today by Sammy Baugh, of the Washington Redskins, who, 
Dorais says, is the greatest forward passer of all time. 

During the first three years of the Dorais-Rockne era, the 
forward pass was an integral part of the Notre Dame attack and 
to quote Gus it was "like shooting fish in a barrel." Opponents 
seemingly had no adequate defense for the aerial game used by 
Notre Dame despite the fact that one man (Dorais) was doing all 
the throwing to a single receiver (Rockne). 

"The usual thing was for the opposition to put a tall lineman 
in the backfield in an effort to stop our passes," Dorais recalls 
"As soon as this happened we would include plunges through the 
place the lineman had vacated and it was seldom that they failed." 

Some of the finer details of modern day passing attacks were 
born in this era. A few years back the "buttonhook pass" became 
a darling of the football world. This bit of strategy consists of hav- 
ing the receiver run up to or past the defender and then turn 
around and start back, catching the ball while the opponent is 
trying to reverse his course. 

"Shucks, 'Rock' developed that one by accident," says Dorais. 
"One day he fell down just as he got to the halfback, and then got 
up and caught the ball which I had thrown short when I saw him 
on the ground. Rockne said he thought the accident could be con- 
verted into a play, and as it turned out it was a most successful 
one. In advance Rockne used to tell me which way he was going 
to cut, and I would throw the ball to the spot. And these methods 
are the basis of the system used so well today by Cecil Isbell and 
Don Hutson of the Green Bay Packers, the greatest passing com- 
bination in football." 

Until 1913 the Notre Dame passing weapon was displayed only 
in the Middle West. 

But that Fall Army scheduled Notre Dame for one of the first 
intersectional games in history on the plains of West Point. So 
little known was Notre Dame at the time that one New York news- 
paper announced the first of one of the greatest series of football 
games by stating that "Notre Dame College of South Bend, Illi- 
nois, will play the Army in football at West Point today." 

Now Dorais and Rockne had spent the summer together work- 
ing at the summer resort at Cedar Point, Ohio, and had developed 

222 Esquire's First Sports Reader. 

their passing efficiency to a peak. But let Dorais tell about this 

"Army had a big, strong team and received. Taking advantage 
of weight Army rolled to a touchdown. In those days it was con- 
sidered the smart thing to kick off but I knew that if we were 
going to win we would have to get possession of the ball. So I 
elected to receive. Then we started our passing, getting in the 
vicinity of the Army 30-yard line. Rockne used to feign injury and 
by hobbling on a couple of plays, he would lull the defensive half- 
back into a feeling of security. 'Rock' did this a couple of times. 
Then he limped up to the Army halfback, turned on his speed and 
sprinted toward the goal line. He caught the pass just as he went 
over. The result was almost complete demoralization of the Army 
team, Notre Dame winning 35 to 13 by using the forward pass, not 
as a mere threat, but as a real offensive scoring weapon." 

The modest Dorais didn't mention it but in one part of this 
historic game, he completed 12 consecutive passes, setting what is 
probably still the record for completed consecutive aerials. 

Dorais began his coaching career in the Fall of 1914 at a small 
Iowa college then known as Dubuque. Later, it was called Columbia 
and still later Loras. During 28 games played from 1914 to 1917, 
he won 17, tied 2 and lost 9. One of the stars of his 1914 team 
was a 39-year-old railway engineer who was partaking of higher 
education during a year's absence from his job. When he left to 
return to the throttle, he expressed his gratitude for a year of 
pleasure to Dorais by announcing that the people at Dubuque were 
the most "hostile" he had ever encountered. 

When World War I engulfed the United States, Dorais joined 
the Army and was detailed to Camp MacArthur, Waco, Texas, 
where he served as director of sports. 

In 1919 Dorais returned to the shadow of the Golden Dome 
of Notre Dame, this time as Rockne's backfield coach. It was 
George Gipp's freshman year, and Dorais spent a great deal of 
time coaching him. In addition he coached the Notre Dame bas- 
ketball team. 

Before the succeeding football season, Gonzaga University 
named Dorais its director of athletics and coach of football, bas- 
ketball and baseball. He stayed at Spokane, Washington, until 
March of 1925, bringing Gonzaga out of the football wilderness 
and presenting it with a Northwestern Conference championship 

Dorais, The Mighty Mite 223 

in 1922. Of 36 games played under Dorais, Gonzaga won 20, lost 
13 and tied 3. 

Dorais remembers his Gonzaga days for several unusual rea- 

His fourth string quarterback in football and regular shortstop 
in baseball was a slight youth who entertained by singing in the 
dressing rooms. The boy's name was "Bing" Crosby, and the bond 
of friendship between Dorais and the King of the Crooners remains 
strong right up to the present. 

Crosby seldom had the fortune to be selected to make the foot- 
ball trips — but he usually went along as a stowaway concealing his 
thin frame under seats until watchful conductors had counted heads 
and received the railroad tickets from Dorais. 

Another Dorais memory of Gonzaga concerns the most unusual 
game any of his teams ever played. 

The opponent was the University of Idaho, a traditional foe 
for Gonzaga then coached by J. Lee Mathews, a member of the 
1910 team at Notre Dame. Incidentally, Dorais is usually referred 
to as the oldest Notre Dame graduate in football coaching but this 
honor belongs to Mathews who is now stationed at Portland Uni- 
versity, Portland, Oregon. 

Getting back to this game, Idaho scored in the first half, but 
failed to convert the point. Late in the final quarter Gonzaga drove 
to the Idaho one-yard line. On the next play a Gonzaga back 
plunged toward the goal line, but fumbled, an Idaho man recover- 
ing the ball in the end zone. But during the play the referee was 
knocked down, the umpire pulled a leg muscle and the head lines- 
man was screened from the action. 

Dorais was of the opinion his ball carrier had crossed the goal 
line before fumbling, in which case it was a Gonzaga touchdown. 
Mathews argued that the Gonzaga ball carrier had never advanced 
to the goal line, making the play a touchback. The officials couldn't 
reach a decision, so Dorais offered to accept the ball at the point 
where the play had started. Mathews rejected the proposal. Finally 
it was agreed to toss a coin. Dorais won, Gonzaga converted and 
scored a 7-to-6 victory. 

Dorais settled down in Detroit in Spring of 1925 and his first 
two seasons were unsuccessful at the school then in its football 
infancy. After that he piled up an enviable record. In the early 
part of the 1927 season his team lost to Army and Notre Dame — 

224 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

then won 19 consecutive games, the string being broken by a tie 
with Marquette in the latter part of the 1929 season. 

In 1937 he was selected to coach the College All-Stars, and by 
defeating the Green Bay Packers his team handed the professionals 
their first loss in the series. 

For years the name of Dorais was linked with almost every 
major coaching vacancy to occur. Finally Dorais issued a blanket 
denial of all rumors, connecting his name with another coaching 

"I hereby empower all newspapermen to write the denials with- 
out consulting me," Dorais wrote. "They can have free rein and I'll 
back them all up by staying at the University of Detroit at least 
until January 1, 1939." 

Dorais graduated from Notre Dame with a law degree and later 
got his master's at Columbia, but never found time to practice law. 
However, he did enter politics. 

As athletic director at the University, Dorais was always urging 
City Council members to allot more money to playgrounds. Having 
three sons and two daughters, Dorais appreciates the need for 
recreational facilities. 

His tired friends on the Council suggested he speak for himself, 
Gus. He did, was elected, and is now serving his second term. 

After noting that sports fame had elected Dorais, Billy Rogel, 
Detroit Tiger shortstop decided he wanted a place on the Council. 
Billy campaigned on a platform of baseball for youngsters and 
was duly elected, and baseball and football are represented on the 
nine man Detroit council. 

As a politician, Dorais has done well, crowning his share of 
queens and making the numerous appearances that are part and 
parcel of the great game of vote-getting. 

Recently, Dorais went to Alpena to crown the ice queen in an 
outdoor ceremony. Later at a dance Dorais had difficulty in getting 
into the swing with the pretty young queen as a partner. 

"I guess I am not as good at dancing as I used to be," he 

"Mr. Dorais," remarked the queen, "perhaps you would get 
along better if you took off your overshoes." 

All football coaches are subject to similar absent-mindedness 
but occasionally the shoe belongs on the other foot. 

Dorais, The Mighty Mite 225 

One night Dorais kept a date to speak before a booster banquet 
sponsored by the service clubs of Ferndale, a Detroit suburb. 

Dorais arrived at the Methodist Church, met a dignitary and 
explained that he had been asked to speak. He was escorted to the 
rostrum where he was flanked by seven ministers. 

After calling on several other speakers, the toastmaster 
turned to Dorais and said : 

"We have another distinguished visitor, I do not know why he is 
here, for I know he was not invited. Perhaps God has sent him 
to us, but we will be very pleased to hear an explanation and a few 
words from Charles E. Dorais, Coach of the University of Detroit." 

Dorais rose, red-faced. This wasn't a booster banquet? No, it 
was a victory dinner celebrating the paying off of the church 
mortgage. Later Dorais learned that the booster dinner had been 
postponed for one night, but that no one had bothered to tell him 
about it. 

One of the headaches confronting Dorais at Detroit and un- 
questionably one of the reasons for his departure was the problem 
of schedule. Every year Gus turned out well drilled, capable teams 
likely to surprise any foe. As a result the coaches of the big college 
teams weren't anxious to play him because victory over the U. of D. 
was meaningless and defeat really hurt in the eyes of the alumni. 

Professional football's schedule-making is automatic and now 
the 53-year-old Dorais has first class opposition, and for sure. The 
Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and other behemoths of pro- 
fessional football are happy to accommodate him with games year 
in and year out. 

But no coach ever had a better opportunity, because the Lions 
can't do anything but improve after losing all of their eleven 
games last season. Give Dorais a championship team, and he'll 
probably run for mayor — and in sports-minded Detroit he'd get 

Ten Million Kellers Can't 
Be Wron^ 


February, 1937 

In these days of high-pressure ballyhoo we have come to mea- 
sure the importance of athletic pastimes in terms of "the gate." 
Fifty to seventy thousand spectators at a big baseball or 
football game is common ; championship fights, horse races, varsity 
crews draw equal crowds and even the polite handclappers of the 
tennis world have grown accustomed to stadia. 

That's why it is surprising to realize that one of the most ex- 
tensively played games in the country is a sport with little bally- 
hoo, few spectators, no champion, no professionals in the accepted 
sense; a sport whose big event of the season collects seven times 
as much money in contestants' entry fees as it does from spectators' 
admissions ! 

That unique pastime is bowling; our national indoor game. It 
earns the title not only because there are from eight to ten million 
regular bowlers in the country but also from the fact that it is one 
of our greatest participating sports. The bowling "world's series," 
for example, is the annual meeting of the American Bowling Con- 
gress. Last year this was held in Indianapolis with 15,000 contest- 
ants from 387 cities and towns — all paying their own railroad fares, 
their own hotel bills, their own entrance fees. 

When you stop to figure that there aren't half that many par- 
ticipants in the Olympic Games, you begin to realize what a sport 
this is ! 

Twenty-five years ago, perhaps, it smelled somewhat too strongly 
of cigar smoke and beer to be listed among the politer pastimes. 
But today the lusty art of "kegling" has come into its own. In our 
more exclusive suburbs, even in the laggard East, you will find 
chauffeur-driven, 18-cylinder cars waiting for their ladies outside 
the recreation parlors — you will find over-crowded alleys in girls' 
schools like Vassar — in hundreds of churches throughout the land 


Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong » 227 

from the ultra-modern Riverside Baptist down to some of the 
smallest — in such top-flight country clubs as Chevy Chase, Wyka- 
gyl, L'Hirondelle, the Congressional Sherwood Forest, the Merion 
Cricket Club, etc. The fact that alleys aren't in the swank clubs 
just for display is emphasized by the report that Wykagyl paid 
for the complete installation and subsequent enlargements in one 
season while the Pelham Country Club took in $1200 during the 
first month's operation. That means 4,800 games rolled at a quarter 
a game ! 

In Hollywood the picture people have become so enthusiastic 
that alleys have been installed on the lots by most of the larger 
producers while numerous stars have had private "courts" built in 
their homes. In short, the whole social complexion of the game has 
changed in the widespread revival of the .past five years, bringing 
to the recreation parlors a new element bearing the approved stamp 
of the elite. 

That does not alter the fact, however, that for 200 years 
American Ten Pins has been a swell game with an appeal for all 
ages, all stations, all degrees of general athletic skill. Side by side 
with thousands of unknown John Doe's and Joe Zilch's you'll find 
names like Percy and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., E. H. Harriman, 
Governor McNutt, of Indiana, W. H. Knudson, Arthur Brisbane, 
and scores of other prominent men who have bowled more or less 
regularly for years. 

But the scope of the game goes far beyond extremes in bank 
balances or social ratings. You will find in the ranks of regular 
bowlers such star athletes as Jack Elder, former Notre Dame half- 
back, Lefty Grove, and Jimmy Dykes, of baseball fame. Yet for 
every bowler of outstanding athletic prowess you will find a hun- 
dred others whose physical equipment runs the gamut from spindly- 
legged high school freshmen to soft-muscled old ladies in the sixties 
and seventies. Indeed, in Buffalo they boast of a woman who bowls 
regularly once a week although she'll never see her 80th birthday 
again ! 

You get the real tip-off on the popularity of the game from 
these very contrasts in social and physical ratings. Bowling is 
inexpensive, averaging from 20c to 25c a game, hence anybody 
can participate : it is likewise a game in which brawn is unimportant, 
so the field is wide open for any normal individual who can stand 
up. Nothing could demonstrate that more dramatically than a 

228 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

match staged last January in which five boys from the New York 
Guild for the Jewish Blind competed against a team of sighted 
lads and lost only by the close margin of 16 pins : 654< to 670. The 
high man for the blind rolled a neat 143. 

The only physical assistance accorded the sightless was a special 
hand rail on the left side of the alley which each bowler used as 
a guide on the approach. Any pins left remaining after the first 
ball were called out by number by the pin boy, and the bowler 
would direct his ball accordingly. 

Even if you are not a bowler, you may deduce from this that 
those elusive yet simple elements, timing, rhythm and control, are 
the basis of skill on the alleys. One of our crack men bowlers 
weighs 124? pounds, indicating that brute strength is inconsequen- 
tial : indeed, without the three fundamentals it is a definite impedi- 
ment to high scores. The knack of toppling the pins is best ex- 
pressed by the very word "toppling:" you want to shove them 
over rather than explode them off the alley bed with a cannon ball 

Of course, it requires a certain amount of strength to be able 
to roll a regulation 16-pound ball with any velocity, and in that 
respect the heavyweight has the edge over the bantamweight. 
However, scores are figured in the number of pins down rather 
than in the speed of the ball. And the fact that a 17-year-old high 
school boy in Flushing, L. I., recently rolled a perfect game — i.e., 
a 300 score — is the very best proof that anybody can aspire to be 
a good bowler regardless of age, physical perfection or athletic 
experience. — ■ 

This is obviously the explanation of the universal interest 
women are now taking in the game, even in the East. The sectional 
distinction is in order because the Middle West is the center of the 
bowling world in both masculine and feminine ranks. The last New 
York State Women's Tournament, for instance, had 90 teams 
entered for the entire Empire State, whereas a recent women's 
tournament in St. Louis saw 130 teams competing from that single 
city ! 

New York women are catching on, though, as indicated by an 
attendance of nearly 5,000 at a free course of instruction offered 
by a local newspaper. Yet in comparison Chicago, capital of the 
bowling world, had no less than 7,200 competitors in its eighth 
annual feminine tournament in 1935 — and they were experienced 

Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong 229 

performers, not beginners, taking lessons. So experienced, indeed, 
that one of their number — the 14-year-old Mary Jane Hubert 
(who five years ago was completely paralyzed!) shot a 209 in her 
opening game! As a matter of fact, the Telephone Company in 
Chicago has more women bowlers than men: an unusual situation 
even for a concern with such an extensive feminine payroll. 

Close behind Chicago, which has the largest bowling population 
and the greatest number of alleys of any city, come Detroit, Mil- 
waukee and Cleveland. And although the pastime is of more recent 
vogue in the Far West, it has spread so speedily there that in many 
cities it has become a year-round game. In Texas and southern 
California especially the air conditioning of recreation halls has 
brought even the golfers inside on the alleys when the blistering 
sun is too punishing on the links! 

New York, where the 1937 ABC Tourney will be held next 
April in the 212th Regiment Armory, is an active bowling center 
with its larger establishments open twenty-four hours a day in 
true Manhattan style. Not only do the stray nighthawks patronize 
the all night places, but one established bowling league starts its 
weekly matches at midnight and rolls far into the early morning 

Conservative estimates indicate that there are at least 200,000 
regular weekly bowlers on Gotham's 2,300 alleys. And while this is 
impressive in total, it is not nearly as great a pro rata bowling 
population as exists in scores of Western cities. Indeed, the largest 
bowling establishment in the East is not in New York, as one might 
expect, but in Philadelphia where 105 alleys are housed under one 
roof. Even the distinction of operating the largest one-floor plant 
goes to Washington, D. C, with an outfit of 50 alleys side by side. 
Pekin, Illinois, is probably the world's greatest bowling town. With 
a population of 16,000, it boasts of 120 men's teams and 50 
women's teams, or a team for every 95 inhabitants. 

Expressive as such figures may be, the most illuminating evi- 
dence of Mid-western supremacy in bowling is afforded by the 
famous Brothers' Tournament which has been conducted annually 
by Fred Tuerk, Sports Editor of the Peoria Star, for the past 
fourteen years. With only blood brothers eligible — and with a 
population of only 105,000 on which to draw — this Illinois city 
last year had no less than 1,702 entries in this meet! 

So far, to be sure, we have considered only the big pin game 

230 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

which is usually implied by the term "bowling." On the same alleys, 
however, there are a dozen small pin games which have sprung 
from the parent sport: duck pins (Babe Ruth's pet game), candle 
pins and variations on these known as "cocked hat," "quintet," 
"the battle game," "nine up and nine down," "four back," etc. 
These games receive nothing but scorn from regular bowlers. Yet 
it is interesting to note that Boston, our oldest bowling city which 
once boasted of more alleys than existed in all the rest of the 
country, has long since deteriorated into a candle pin town to the 
utter disgust of the 16-pound bailers. Candle pins are tall, skinny 
pins for which a 6-inch ball is used: duck pins — a small, squatty 
variety of the regulation pin — also calls for a small ball without 
finger holes and is very popular down East outside of Boston and 
along the Atlantic seaboard from Baltimore south. 

The whole Eastern territory, however, is subject to much more 
variation in taste than prevails to the West. Brockton, Massachu- 
setts, for example, in the heart of the candle and duck pin area, 
is one of the most rabid Ten Pin cities in the country. And Pitts- 
burgh, flanked on all sides by the regulation game, is quite goofy 
about rubber-band duck pins. 

But out West where men and babies teeth on 15-inch pins, the 
small ball games aren't tolerated and bowling only means one 
thing: American Ten Pins. This is our own development of the 
game of Nine Pins which Elmer H. Baumgarten has traced back 
prior to 1200 A.D. : a logical offspring of the older game of "Lawne 
Bowles" and originally played on a 12-inch alley outdoors but 
eventually brought inside because keglers would rather play than 
issue rain checks. This is the game which Sir Francis Drake refused 
to leave until completed despite the courier's message that the 
Spanish Armada had arrived in the English Channel. And this is 
the game which the early Dutch and English settlers brought to 
the Colonies, to be played so generally that the austere Puritans 
promptly barred it by law around the middle of the 17th century. 

While that prohibition killed the game in the Northeast, it also 
spawned the form of pastime which we now know. Some enthusiast, 
noting that the injunction forbade Nine Pins, blandly added a 
tenth pin to the setup and neatly circumvented the law ! 

With all its centuries of popularity, however, it wasn't until 
1895 that bowling rules and specifications were standardized with 
the organization of the American Bowling Congress — now boast- 

Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong 231 

ing over 300,000 members — and under the jurisdiction of this 
progressive body the game has gone a long, long way from the days 
of clay alley beds and stone "balls." Modern alleys, expertly 
fashioned of edge-grained, virgin white rock maple and Georgia 
pine, cost around $3,000 a pair. After the finest quality of wood 
is cut, it takes two years to properly treat the pine and three years 
before the maple is in condition for laying. And with forty-one 
one-inch boards for each alley, it takes two experienced men about 
twenty days to put down a bed. 

Pins, too, are considerably more than just bottle-shaped chunks 
of timber. Good pins, guaranteed to last 1,000 games, are made of 
the finest grade of maple. With only a half-ounce tolerance allowed 
among the three-pound pins in any set, uniformity is quite im- 
portant. And with a high resistance to wear equally essential, it is 
obvious that much skill goes into the manufacture of this equip- 
ment. The old adage says that "it takes 150 years to make a bowling 
pin" since only the butt cut can be used. If the stock is not straight 
grained, it won't last two games — and even if it meets all the rigid 
requirements of quality, the wood has to be "cured" for at least 
eighteen months before it can be turned. In view of all that, $10.50 
seems cheap enough for a set of pins that will hold together after 
being knocked down 20,000 times. 

Balls, once wooden but now almost exclusively manufactured of 
composition materials, cost in the neighborhood of $15 to $17. And 
since every honest-to-God bowler owns his own ball, one of the 
most expressive barometers of the sudden rise of bowling is the fact 
that numerous credit jewelry houses have lately added bowling 
balls to their merchandise lists. One such concern in Detroit sold 
no less than $22,000 worth of balls last season ! 

These shreds of economics are interesting in more ways than 
one because they add up in a manner quite alien to most athletic 
pastimes in these high-pressure days. The 32 alleys which were 
laid expressly for the forty-fourth ABC Tournament in Indiana- 
polis represented an investment of approximately $50,000 — an in- 
vestment, however, which was liquidated at the end of the five 
weeks' play hj the ready resale of the alleys to various recreation 

Quarters large enough to house this tournament (in which only 
men compete, by the way) cost around $1,000 a week in rent. Yet 
the interesting thing about it is that this expansive space is not 

232 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

required for spectators but for participants. Indeed, while paid 
admissions amounted to some $18,000- — a laughable "gate" for any 
other championship contest — the entry fees of the bowlers them- 
selves aggregated $150,000. 

Something like $95,000 of this sum was posted as prize money, 
won, naturally, by a relatively small proportion of the entrants. 
All of which boils down to the fact that bowling has such a grip 
on its enthusiasts that fifteen thousand of them travel hundreds 
of miles at their own expense for the privilege of rolling against 
60% of their own cash! 

Prize money? Yes, bowling has always been a practical sport 
without any hallucinations about amateurism. Trophies and medals 
are awarded for outstanding achievements, but cash awards have 
always been offered under ABC jurisdiction. Thus, while bowling 
has never been admitted to the secred circles of the Olympiad — and 
can never be considered on the same immaculate scale as tennis, 
whose "amateurs" travel on the fat of the land — it is still an 
amateur game in the honest sense of the term because its partici- 
pants are competing mainly for fun. There are no bowlers who 
earn a living on the alleys, or, indeed, earn a living in some sporting 
goods store on the strength of their reputations. So the game is 
strictly in a class by itself. 

Among the medals awarded by the American Bowling Congress 
every year are those coveted emblems presented to any bowler who 
rolls a perfect game under conditions accepted by the governing 
body. A perfect or 300 game, of course, is a strike (every pin 
down) on every ball rolled. And in order to put more of a premium 
on accuracy and control than on the knack of finding the "groove" 
in some antiquated alley-bed, the ABC requires that in order to 
gain recognition, a bowler must roll his perfect game on two 
standard alleys, alternating from one to the other each two-ball 

Something like par on the golf course, bowling's 300 score is 
the dream of every kegler. In actual practice, however, a par game 
of golf is not necessarily a perfect game — scores of pros and good 
amateurs break par with fair regularity — whereas a 300 score on 
the alleys is absolutely the best that anybody can do. The fact 
that the country's 10,000,000 bowlers never roll more than 500 
perfect games a season is, perhaps, the ultimate appraisal of this 

Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong 233 

An average of 200 perfect score medals are awarded each year 
(the other 300 games being rolled in practice or special matches 
not sanctioned), and the greatest number held by any individual 
bowler is eight. This string of decorations belongs to Harry (Hank) 
Marino, of Milwaukee, who has unquestionably bowled as many 
more perfect games in practice as he has in regular competition. 

Reverting to some previous comments upon the physical re- 
quirements for a good bowler, it is interesting here to make a com- 
parison between the outstanding men's star and the foremost women 
bowler. Hank Marino's record has been hung up over a twenty-five 
year period of bowling. In little over half that time a matronly, 
white-haired woman of Pueblo, Colorado — Mrs. Floretta McCut- 
cheon — has rolled ten perfect games. 

While this emphasizes the contention that bowling is an ideal 
game for women, it doesn't by any means imply that many women 
shoot 300 — or that the goal is easy to attain. None of the 15,000 
male competitors at Indianapolis last year succeeded in doing it — 
only one of the 12,000 entrants at Syracuse the year before man- 
aged to come through, and that was the first time it had been done, 
at the meet since the 1913 Tournament at Toledo! All of which 
seems to add further glory to the achievement of Frank Caruana, 
of Buffalo, who, in a sanctioned, four-game match in 1924, started 
off by rolling tzvo 300 scores in succession and wound up the even- 
ing with a 247 and a 268! Bowling on two alleys alternately, re- 
member, not just one. 

A bowler's skill is not measured by high scores, however, but 
by his average score. Top-flight performers average around 190 
(150 is considered excellent for a woman's average), yet the con- 
stant imminence of a perfect game for any Tom, Dick or Harriet 
on the alleys is evidenced by the fact that more 300 score medals 
are awarded bowlers with averages under 160 rather than over. 
In short, bowling offers the reasonably good performer a far better 
chance than does golf to crash the charmed circle of the elect. 

Interesting as a passing observation, this is by no means the 
sole explanation of bowling's age-old popularity or of its recent 
sweep into the favor of new circles. Millions of people have fre- 
quented the alleys for years for the simple reason that bowling is 
a swell game. It is good, lusty exercise; it is an ideal vehicle for 
complete mental relaxation ; it is a friendly, neighborly game. Skill 
is involved, to be sure, but not the exacting skill of golf, the lack 

234? Esquire's First Sports Reader 

of which converts a sport into an embarrassing misery for the 
novice. For the truth is that bowling can be thoroughly enjoyed 
with less proficiency than almost any other game you can mention. 
And the best way to prove that is to watch some newly formed 
club of women, most of whom never had any athletic training 
before, having the time of their lives on the alleys despite the fact 
that three balls out of every four rolled land in the gutter long 
before they reach the pin ! 

Then, too, there is enough competition in bowling to make it 
exciting, yet that competition is not acute in the sense that it is 
directly physical or even greatly dependent upon physical strength. 
Two players of widely different muscular development and athletic 
education can bowl against each other with complete satisfaction. 
At the annual tournament the contestants' ages range from 18 to 
65 and in many sections of the country father and son tournaments 
are even more popular on the alleys than on the links and husband 
and wife can bowl together with infinitely less risk of divorce than 
they are exposed to at golf ! 

Being all-inclusive, bowling is easily the most sociable of all 
games and therein lies its strength. The backbone of the sport in 
this country are the teams and leagues from offices, factories and 
mills which have bowled two or three evenings a week for years. 
Anybody from the boss to the office boy is eligible on equal grounds, 
and for that simple reason practically every leading concern in 
the country has fostered bowling as the ideal breeder of improved 
industrial relations. 

The great majority merely stimulate the formation of teams 
and utilize local public alleys on certain regular evenings. Two 
nights weekly, for instance, the Bell Laboratories in New York 
take over 24 alleys in one establishment; in Detroit, employees of 
the Ternstadt Manufacturing Company take 66 alleys in one 
establishment for six hours each week. In Newark, New Jersey, the 
Prudential Insurance Company has 4,000 bowlers among its em- 
ployees ; in various cities the Chrysler Corporation estimates 5,000, 
and so on. 

Something over 150 different corporations have installed alleys 
in their own properties which run the scale from the U. S. Steel 
Corporation, to a Wisconsin fox farm with 100 employees. General 
Electric has 12 alleys in Schenectady alone, 12 more in Fort 
Wayne, 8 in Cleveland, etc.; in Flint, Michigan, the Industrial 

Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong- 235 

Mutual Association, composed chiefly of automotive workers, has 32 
alleys in its club house ; the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company has at 
least 18 alleys in five different mines, and so it goes. Starting 
twenty years ago in a small woolen mill in an isolated city in Mich- 
igan, the idea of installing bowling alleys on the plant property 
has spread until today the largest corporations in the country 
have joined the ranks. 

Already mentioned as an active bowler, John D. Rockefeller, 
Jr., has had no small part in spreading the acceptance of the game 
for its value in better understanding between employer and em- 
ployee. One of the first things he did in Pueblo after the Colorado 
Fuel & Iron Company's notorious labor difficulties some years back 
was to introduce bowling. And in all Rockefeller interests today — 
including the Riverside Church with its six alleys! — the game 
rates ace high. 

And why shouldn't it? It's that kind of game and, unless you're 
deaf, dumb and blind, you don't need a broad-minded philanthro- 
pist to tell you so. If you like a sport that will test your mettle 
without breaking your back, try bowling. If you've never bowled 
before, stop in some alley and watch the old hands perform: they 
pick up a ball by its finger holes, balance it a moment, swing it 
behind them in an arm-length arc, and walk smartly up to the foul 
line with a final genuflection as the ball swings forward. How 
sweetly it hugs the boards as it hums down the 60-foot stretch — • 
how soul-satisfying the crash of "timber" as the missile shoots 
into the "1-3 pocket" and thirty pounds of polished lumber are 
swept helter-skelter into the pit ! 

Team-mates yowl in unrestrained delight ; rivals admonish their 
man in even louder voices to go and do likewise — and before you 
know it — you want to peel off your coat and bowl yourself. 

When you first try it you may find that the 16-pound ball is 
too heavy for comfort. So use a light-weight ball: you'll find all 
weights in the rack. You will also discover that laying the ball 
down on the boards isn't quite so simple as it looked: usually you 
heave it and bounce it so awkwardly at first that it wobbles off 
into the gutter and accomplishes nothing. Unless you are amaz- 
ingly inept, however, several of your first half-dozen balls will 
miraculously remain on the alley all the way down to the end. And 
once you've seen a couple of sturdy pins clonk against each other 

236 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

and then topple off out of sight, you've gotten the taste of blood 
that will never be completely satiated. 

The smart thing to do, of course, is to ask one of the attendants 
at the alleys to give you some tips — provided you don't personally 
know some kegler who will be delighted to do that for you. Neither 
of them will charge you anything (bowlers are like that!) and one 
or the other will be able to show you how to keep a larger per- 
centage of your balls on the alley bed. They'll emphasize the 
necessity of the straight arm; the importance of a three or four 
step approach rather than the flat-footed stance ; the advantage of 
keeping your feet wide apart ; the necessity of bending at the hips ; 
the reason for rolling the ball rather than throwing or bouncing 
it. As you progress they will demonstrate the difference between 
the "straight cross" and the "hook" delivery ; the reason for seek- 
ing the "1-3 pocket" rather than aiming flush for the head pin; 
when to bowl from the left-hand side of the alley rather than the 
right; how to "shave" a pin when shooting the spare ball on a 
"railroad," and other things to improve your game. 

Even at the start, strikes will come frequently enough to strain 
your vest buttons, for this is a game peculiarly kind to the novice. 
As you improve your eye and develop that elusive trinity, timing, 
rhythm and control, you will find yourself steeped in a pastime 
which lures you on and on. 

Like golf, too, bowling is not physically violent. You'll sleep 
like a top after three or four games, all right, but there's no 
danger of overdoing it for one very simple reason: your thumb 
will get sore from the friction of the finger-grip before you can 
bowl too long for your own good ! 

This is one reason why experienced physical directors are plac- 
ing so much emphasis on bowling in hundreds of high schools 
throughout the country as well as in an increasing number of 
girls' schools. It is good exercise — principally because it gives the 
abdominal muscles a much needed workout — yet it carries its own 
curb to excess. The famous Bishop Shiel, mainspring of the Chicago 
C.Y.O.. took over no less than 48 bowling alleys for the use of his 
youngsters. And in Louisville, Kentucky, where a high school league 
was started last winter with 200 boys, Dr. M. C. Isaac, physical 
director of the Du Pont Manual Training High School, says, "I 
think bowling is a wonderful recreational activity, not only for the 
high school boy but for everyone in general." Now even the faculty 

Ten Million Keglers Can't Be Wrong 237 

members are getting out on the alleys with their pupils, and the 
obvious virtue of it is that they are all enjoying a game which takes 
the lot of them off the spectators' benches and puts them on the 
playing floor. Instead of cheering five, nine or eleven selected 
fortunates, they are participating themselves, thus meeting the 
criticism some observer once aimed at athletics in general: "the 
athlete competes and grows stronger; the weakling looks on and 
grows weaker." 

One reason, of course, is that bowling is a participating rather 
than a spectator sport — and one which the youth can and will 
pursue beyond middle age. And the reason why he sticks to it, 
apart from its adaptability to physique, is the fact that it is a 
sociable game which carries an easy outlet for pent-up emotions in 
this age of growing inhibitions. 

The average man or woman who bowls may not appreciate the 
psychological value of the game, but intelligent psychiatrists do 
and recommend it as a mental relaxation. The former Governor 
Adams, of Colorado, used to explain his frequent trips to the 
bowling alleys on the grounds that it was the only readily accessible 
game which tired his body and rested his mind in a short time. 
And if one attempted to get at the root of the recent popularity 
of bowling among the "upper crust," he would inevitably arrive at 
that conclusion as the explanation. 

For entirely beyond the appeal of the game as a game, the 
critical analyst will see in it something which we, who live under 
increasing pressure, have been mutely crying for. In college we got 
it easily in gang formation by smashing up the town after the big 
game — and in adult life many still achieve it by attending con- 
ventions, getting marvelously tight and throwing the furniture 
out of the hotel windows. 

In short, the savage in us still rebels at the damnable orderli- 
ness of conventional civilization. Individually, we are afraid to 
flaunt public opinion: in a sympathetic group we are delighted to 
blow things helter-skelter. Hence the popularity of bowling. 

For the essence of bowling is that it permits the most straight- 
laced citizen to unbend long enough to blast into utter confusion 
a regimented array of ten neatly arranged objects. A monkey-like 
pin boy puts them there, row upon row in tantalizing perfection, 
and for the small price of a quarter you can crash that orderliness 

238 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

into a shambles with a sixteen-pound missile, and win the cheers of 
your compatriots too ! 

Verily, bowling is a swell game. And while those who know their 
business recommend it as a breeder of better industrial relations — 
and others advocate it as a healthy form of exercise for the imma- 
ture and the aged — and still others favor it because it is an ideal 
conditioner for the sedentary — I like it because bowling is the civil- 
ized man's last chance to make a hell of a racket without apologiz- 
ing to a soul ! 

So Take It Easy 


September, 19S6 

All right, come on ; I see you there. You're not really reading 
that great big shiny magazine; about a tenth of you is 
L reading. The other nine-tenths is out somewhere lying around 
in a pair of swimming trunks. One of these days the nine-tenths 
will get control; you'll gallop off and spend a day, or maybe a 
week or two, at the beach or the river or the lake. Why? 

For your health? No; heaven for fend! Swimming is the all- 
around healthiest exercise there is. It makes you waggle practically 
every muscle you own without violently pulling any single one. It 
mends your posture, and it's good for your gizzard and other 
organs. It takes off fat where you're bunchy, and it puts on flesh 
where you're scrawny. It makes you husky but not muscle-bound, 
lean but not skinny. Water and sunshine fix you up outside and in, 
softening, toughening and clearing up your skin, and of course 
plastering on the old coat of tan; soothing those frazzled nerves 
and filling you full of Vitamin D. True, but a dull reason for going 
to the beach. 

For a change and a rest? That's your story, and you almost 
believe it. 

Really, you're going for the purpose of having a good time, 
and you might better face the fact. 

A lot of people go off to have a good time around the water . . . 
and don't have it. If you take the trouble to look at them you can 
see with half an eye what's holding them back. 

Superstitions. Inhibitions, and that sort of thing. 

Take the case of Mr. B, a typical Athletic Compulsion subject. 
You'll have to watch him closely to notice anything odd in his 
behavior; it's only when he takes his daily swim that his quirk is 
evident. Here he goes now. That's him over there on the beach. He 
takes a deep breath. His jaw sets. He's off! 


240 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Down the beach and headlong into the water. A flat racing dive. 
He's up, now; he's swimming. Zam, zam, zam, his flailing arms 
pummel the water. His churning feet leave a wake of spreading 
foam. Zam, zam, zam ; he's half way to the float. On he goes ; un- 
faltering. He's almost there. Zam, zam, zam ; he reaches the float, 
snatches himself out of the water, sinks down on his stomach, lies 
there. Now it's his heart that's going zam, zam, zam ; and his lungs 
are going wheeze. Return to your bridge game for half an hour, 
then take another look at the float. Aha! B is on his feet again. 
Again the chest expansion, the facial expression of purpose. The 
racing dive, and here he comes, zam, zam, zam, zam. When he gets 
ashore now, and throws himself down panting on his blanket, we 
can forget him. He's through for the day. Poor Mr. R. 

Poor Mr. B. There's nothing that man would rather do than 
swim ; yet once a day is all he can take. Naturally, at the hideous 
pace he sets himself. Why doesn't he take it easy ? Athletic Compul- 

R is a reader of magazines, a goer to moving pictures, a liver, 
in other words, of an average life. He reads articles on swimming, 
he notices advertisements of bathing wear, he sees swimmers in 
news reels and sports shorts, and in meets and exhibitions now and 
then. Wherever he notices people swimming, it seems to him, they're 
swimming fast. It's crept into his subconscious ; he's built up, quite 
without realizing it, the belief — the superstition — that somehow 
it isn't sporting to swim unless you swim like the dickens all the 
time. He can't go slow. Athletic Compulsion. 

Mr. McL's condition is more obvious than Mr. R's. You can 
spot Mr. McL any time except when he's in bed, and often then. 
He's a victim of the Ironman Delusion. Watch him as he arrives 
from the city, at five twenty-five the afternoon of the first day of 
his vacation, l^y five forty-seven he has dumped his bags in his 
cottage, hung up his dinner jacket to unwrinkle for an evening of 
dancing, got into his shorts and bathrobe, and trotted half way 
to the cove. Ry five fifty-three he has arrived, still trotting, at the 
cove, doffed his robe, and trotted on into the water. His is no 
sprinting style, but rather the long and powerful stroke of the 
marathoner. Darkness, fortunately or unfortunately, forces him 
to leave the water after only eleven round trips to the float. He 
trots back to the cottage, takes a shower, puts on his dinner 
jacket, and steps out. 

So Take It Easy r 241 

Ah, Mr. McL — how fortunate you thought to prepare your tux 
for this evening! You don't know it, but this is your last evening 
of dancing this vacation. 

Nine o'clock tomorrow morning will find you on the beach, 
stripped to the sun, starting your first water marathon (there'll be 
another around noon, two more only slightly shorter during the 
afternoon). Ten thirty will see you taking a brisk run on the 
beach. Between swims in the afternoon you'll have an hour of 
volley ball, an hour in a row boat, and a couple of twenty minute 
stretches of calisthenics. You'll go home and fall asleep in the bath 
tub, and move from there to bed about twelve-thirty. 

The next day you'll feel not unbearably crisp and crinkly on 
your back and shoulders, though you'll be quite red; yes, really 
quite red. You won't discover the blisters until after your three 
o'clock mile; you won't get out of the sun, of course, until the sun 
goes down. But you won't feel hungry, somehow, for dinner; "too 
tired," you'll tell yourself. You won't sleep worth a hoot. And, 
what with fever, the weakness and the pain, you won't get out of 
bed in the morning. But don't worry ; it's only a matter of time be- 
fore someone will discover you and call in a doctor, who will doubt- 
less be gifted enough to cure those burns so you can get out of bed 
by the end of your vacation. 

Don't feel too sorry for Mr. McL; if sunburn hadn't got him, 
some other result of his idiocy would have. He was doomed from 
the moment he forgot that it's impossible to enjoy vacations just 
taking it easy — from the moment he became a prey of the Ironman 

No ironman is Mr. W ; no athlete either, and he knows it. Mr. 
W is a Danger Deviser. Mr. W's mind has two parts, a department 
of storage and filing where he keeps all the accidents and mishaps 
he has ever heard of, together with original ones he has invented, 
and a department of inspiration and creation where he is able to 
fashion at a moment's notice from four to seven accidents to fit 
any given situation. Mr. W sits in the shade of a large umbrella 
throughout the day, wearing a visor and smoked glasses and quiver- 
ing periodically with apprehension. Why he ever bothered to take 
off his clothes and come down near the water is a problem you must 
solve for yourself if you want it solved. 

Now then: 

Who are you? 

242 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Mr. B, Mr. McL, or Mr. W? Well, you're all of them to some 
extent ; everybody is. Each of them, as you've seen, has been unable 
to cut loose and have a thoroughly good time. And you're all three ! 

Look yourself straight in the eye, and say to yourself in a rich 
baritone, "I realize fully that I am Mr. B, Mr. McL, and Mr. W." 
By doing that you've cleared half your hurdles. 

More specifically, about your Athletic Compulsion: You don't 
want to look like a dub in the water ; everybody is a good swimmer 
nowadays, and you're not going to lag behind. So you swim harder 
than there's any need to. (An Athletic Compulsion may be present 
in any pastime, as a matter of fact; but right now we're talking 
about water and swimming.) 

Just how critical are you of other people when they swim? 
Critical . . . why, you seldom even notice other swimmers. And 
other swimmers seldom even notice you. So skip the selfconscious- 
ness ; forget it ; slow down and have a good time. Take it easy. 

• Your Ironman Delusion is a little less simple. The McL in you 
is no show-off ; as his initials might indicate, he's Scotch, and thrifty. 
He's come down here to have a good time, and he's going to make 
certain he's having one every moment. Fine; perfectly natural; 
but he doesn't think very clearly, and he certainly lacks imagina- 
tion. He can't seem to remember that he's no athlete, that he's not 
even in especially good shape for a non-athlete. And on the other 
hand he can't invent ways of amusing himself which aren't un- 
necessarily strenuous. 

An old codger who used to spend two weeks every summer at a 
little beach in California had the right idea. He may have been a 
McL to begin with, but years had cured him of his Ironman 
Delusion without robbing him of his love of long swims. He got 
himself a plank about four feet long, eighteen inches wide, and 
two or three inches thick. He rounded off the corners and nailed 
some old rubber hose all around the edge for a buffer. He used to 
be out for hours cruising around the bay on that thing, swimming 
and pushing it, lying on it and paddling and kicking, often just 
lying on it and drifting. He got his time's worth out of every 
moment of his two weeks, and he didn't kill himself off either. If 
I hadn't had such a bad case of Athletic Compulsion at the time 
you bet I would have had a little plank too, and gone out and 
dawdled around rising and falling on the waves and watching the 

So Take It Easy 243 

little people on the beach and dodging the seagulls and giving my 
ears a rest from chatter. 

How is the water where you swim? Clear? If it's not absolutely 
murky, you ought to be able to find more interesting things under 
the water than on top of it. It's rather difficult to observe things 
beneath the water, though. You can't see down from the surface 
very well, because ripples distort your vision. And if you dive or 
swim underwater you still can't see clearly ; the lenses of the human 
eye are set to receive light coming through air, and when your 
eyes are in contact with the denser medium of water your vision, 
though it's undistorted, is blurred. 

To look down from the surface, you need to smooth the ripples 
somehow. The best tool is what's variously called a waterscope, an 
aquascope, or a waterglass; simply a bucket with a glass bottom. 
Cut the bottom out of a pail or a large tin can, seal on- — with putty, 
liquid solder, even candle wax or adhesive tape — a piece of flat 
glass. Set the waterscope oh the water, press it down so the glass 
end is clear in, and look into the open end. You can see just as if 
there weren't any water. If that's too much bother, simply stick a 
three-foot length of four to six inch pipe endwise into the water 
and look through it. There's no positive smoothing of the surface, 
like that accomplished by the waterscope, but the pipe acts as a 
windbreak and does away with most of the ripples. 

For seeing clearly while you yourself are underwater, the most 
satisfactory thing is a pair of water goggles; they're used chiefly 
by pearl, sponge and abalone fishermen, but you can buy them at 
most sporting goods stores around the water. Adjust them so they 
fit good and tight. And have a few drops of water inside each lens 
when you put them on; then you'll have something to rinse the 
glass with if it fogs up. ..,,... ... 

You can get an unblurred look underwater, not badly ripple 
distorted, just by trapping bubbles of air against your eye. Put a 
hand on each side of your face, like a horse's blinder, with the 
thumb toward your ear and the base joint of the forefinger against 
the outer end of your eye socket. So long as your face is pointed 
straight down you can hold air in front of your eyes; if it leaks 
out, bubble some more in from your mouth. 

Long swims with a plank to rest on, easy-going underwater 
explorations — those are just two. of the possible ways of getting 
a kick out of the water without giving all you've got all the time. 

244 * Esquire's First Sports Reader 

Is there a surf? Try riding it on a board; or without a board, 
just floating on your face or your back. Is there a beach? Lie down 
on it and relax. Delusion or no delusion, you are no ironman, and 
you better realize it before you spoil your vacation altogether. 
Take it easy. 

Take it easy in the sun, too. Naturally you'd like to get tan as 
soon as you can. All right, do it — but don't try to get tan sooner 
than you can. On your first day, give yourself an hour in the early 
morning sun. Then stay in the shade till late afternoon. See how 
you look; if you look OK, take another hour. Give yourself an 
hour and a half next morning, if you aren't too burned. And so 
on. If you use a little judgment and have plenty of pigment in 
your skin you can tan yourself nicely in a week. Cook yourself 
thoroughly the first day and you'll not only have a miserable time 
but lose your opportunity for a tan besides. 

Beware of misty days, by the way. Infra-red rays will come 
right through water vapor and burn you, but ultra-violet rays are 
stopped, so your burn never does turn into a tan. 

Now for the Danger Deviser, the Mr. W in you. A lot of your 
fears are exaggerated; a lot more of them are totally unfounded. 

Lurking behind all the other fears is that of drowning, a 
grotesque and shapeless sort of fear — and in itself a very foolish 
one. Nobody ever just drowned; invariably something happens 
first, to lead to the drowning. If you don't believe that, go on in 
the water and try to drown yourself. Just try. So cross drowning, 
as such, off your list. 

You've heard a lot about undertows. They exist, all right ; but 
you've got the wrong idea of what they are. You think, or at least 
most people do, that an undertow is a downward swirl which seizes 
you in its icy grasp, pulls you to the very bottom, and sits on your 
chest, sneering. Fiddle. An undertow is no more than a current, 
underwater, which moves in the direction opposite to the current 
on the surface. Where water is coming in in waves on the surface, 
it's usually going out again, beneath. If you stand up in the surf, 
perhaps the undertow will sweep your feet from under you. But 
if you can swim — and all this is on the assumption that you can — 
what do you care? Suppose it's a very devil of a current, close to 
the surface and too strong to swim against? Drift along the beach 
fifty or a hundred yards and you'll find you can come in all right. 

Another thing you're constantly expecting to be grabbed by is 

So Take It Easy 245 

weeds. Weeds don't grab people; they're not meat eaters. If the 
weeds are underwater, lie close to the surface and you won't even 
know they're there. If they're spread out on the surface, you can 
see them and swim around them. As a matter of fact, you can, if 
you're willing to take your time and go slow, swim right through 
any clump of weeds in the Western Hemisphere. Or Eastern. 

If somebody throws you right in the middle of a marine thicket, 
lie level on the water, take small, conservative strokes, and you'll 
have no trouble swimming out. 

You're afraid of cramps, and certainly people do get them in 
the water now and then. There is one cramp which is dangerous, 
cramp of the stomach or diaphragm; cases of stomach cramp are 
very rare. A cramp anywhere else can be broken by forcibly 
stretching out the affected muscle. Cramp in your foot? Pull your 
toes up toward you with your hand, and straighten your knee; it 
will hurt a little, but it will break the cramp. Cramp in the calf of 
your leg? Cramp in the back of your thigh? Same treatment. 
Cramp in the front of your thigh? Get hold of your foot and pull 
it up till the sole is against your buttock; then hold it there and 
swing your knee down and back under you. Cramp , in the shoulder 
muscles back of your neck? Force your head forward till your chin 
is on your chest, and roll it from side to side. 

You can break cramps in the water, or you can swim ashore 
and then break them. But whichever you do stay out of the water 
for a little while, and give the muscle a rubdown to help circulation. 

Learn to float in some position, on your back or with your 
feet hanging below you, so that you can keep your nose and mouth 
above the water without moving a muscle. 

If you can do that, Mr. W, the chances against your drowning 
are a million to one. 

Don't swim within two hours after eating. 

Digestion usually takes that long, and though nobody knows 
what causes stomach cramps, swimming while you're digesting food 
seems to have something to do with it. 

Don't swim when you're feeling off form, or when you're very 
tired or very hot. Or When You're Plastered. 

You aren't normal under those circumstances. Your judgment 
is bad, as well as your physical condition and endurance. 

Don't swim absolutely alone; always try to keep within sight 
and hollering distance of somebody or other. 

And all of you — B, McL, and W — for safety, for health, for 
enjoyment: take it easy. 

One Second to Make Up 
Your Mind 


November, 1937 

Jim thorpe, Bronko Nagurski and Red Grange sat together on 
a bench in the dressing room of our Chicago Bears early this 
year out in California. Looking at them, I thought, "There's 
an entire backfield, even without a quarter." If Ernie Nevers, 
George Gipp, Dutch Clark and Paddy Driscoll had been present, 
my all-time, all-star set of backs would have been complete. That 
is based on personal experience with or against all of them on the 
field of play. 

For example, the only really top-heavy defeat our Chicago 
Bears ever suffered, a score of 40 to 7, was administered by Ernie 
Nevers 5 team and Ernie personally scored each of the forty points. 

All of them — Nevers, Thorpe, Gipp, Clark, Nagurski, Grange, 
and Driscoll- — had hair-trigger football minds. No one of them 
went into action on any play with a question mark in his brain. 

Now, one second is a mighty short space of time — a mere wave 
of the hand. If you had to make up your mind to change jobs, buy 
a house, get married or unmarried — all in one second — to say that 
you wouldn't like it probably sets a new high in understatement. 
But in the football game you watch this week-end, the issue may be 
decided by a right or wrong decision, arrived at in the twinkling 
of an eye. 

This decision will be made while twenty-two men are in motion 
and the movements of eleven of those men are cunningly contrived 
to deceive one or two key men on the defensive team. We are in an 
era of deception in football and presently we'll cite examples of how 
tough it is to make one of those one-second decisions, with very 
little evidence on which to base judgment. 

I don't refer to decisions made as a result of a tip-off of the 
coming play, resulting from reading the intention of the attacking 
team by its formation and the placing of key men. Such tip-offs are 
not uncommon in football, a result of careful scouting. 


One Second to Make Up Your Mind 247 

For example, word has gotten around in coaching circles about 
the defensive methods which have often proved successful against 
the Notre Dame system of offense. Most coaches know about them, 
but they are far from public knowledge. For instance, the attacking 
direction of scores of high school and college teams which rigidly 
follow the basic Notre Dame style of play, can be forecast by the 
movement of the quarterback. If he goes to the left to block, the 
play will also go that way, ninety-nine times out of a hundred. If he 
blocks on the right side, the ball carrier will ultimately try to break 
through on that side. 

Also, the defense of many teams against high school and college 
elevens using the orthodox Notre Dame style, is guided by the 
position of the fullback just before the ball is snapped. If he is in 
one spot, they can reliably forecast the point and method of attack. 
If he is in another spot, they know what to expect with considerable 

Lest Notre Dame followers think I am revealing secrets precious 
to Elmer Lay den, Noble Kizer, Jim Crowley and others, I hasten 
to add that they would yawn if you told them you had just read 
how to stop Notre Dame. They would also probably add that the 
Notre Dame system is still doing all right. 

For that matter, every top-flight coach is conscious of the prob- 
ability that the opposition has discovered tip-offs in his attack. For 
three years the Chicago Bears led the National Football League in 
yardage gained. In 1936 we dropped to second place. Our opera- 
tives reported that the other teams were reading our offensive cards. 
Our offense has been markedly revamped for the current season. 
Tip-offs, as they are known to the trade, are carefully guarded by 
the coach who makes the discovery. The trouble is that the coach 
usually has two or three friends in the profession to whom he passes 
the word along. Eventually, therefore, some coach, after an involved 
ritual in which he pledges utmost secrecy, is given a tip-off which 
eighteen of his fellows have already bestowed upon him with the 
same hushed accents. 

Right now, in a confidential aside, I am going to pass on to 
other coaches in the National League a tip on something we dis- 
covered about Ernie Pinckert, of Southern California, now with the 
Washington Redskins, formerly the Boston Club. Long ago we 
found out that when Pinckert assumed his offensive stance with one 
hand on the ground, his assignment was to block our end or tackle. 

248 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

When he lined up with his elbows on his knees we knew he was going 
to carry the ball on a reverse. 

And now, let's get on with the proposition of making a decision 
in one second. Inasmuch as most football shoptalk begins or ends 
with Jim Thorpe, the big Indian may well be used as our takeoff. 

One day our Hammond professionals were playing the Canton 
Bulldogs who had Thorpe in the lineup. Our team included the 
famous Wyman-to-Baston forward passing combination from Min- 
nesota and also Hauser of the Gophers; Shorty Des Jardien, 
Stagg's great center; Paddy Driscoll of Northwestern and others 
of like caliber. 

Well, we worked the ball down to Canton's one yard line, fourth 
down and goal to make, with big Jim backing up the Bulldog's line. 
Our quarter called for a buck inside the opposing tackle by Gil 
Falcon, our 235-pound fullback, who had a terrific charge. As the 
ball was snapped, I got a good blocking angle on the Bulldog tackle 
moving him out while Hugh Blacklock, our own tackle, drove in 
Doctor Spears, the adjacent opposing guard. Seeing the vacancy 
thus created, Jim Thorpe threw his body into the hole without wait- 
ing for the play to develop. Wow ! He crashed into Falcon about a 
yard on our side of the line of scrimmage and knocked the giant 
fullback back an additional three yards. 

Taking over the ball on downs, Thorpe punted out of bounds 
on our nineteen yard line. One moment we had been knocking at 
the door to a touchdown; the next we were eighty-one yards away. 
It was very discouraging to a bruised, tired team. 

This isn't a Jim Thorpe article but it is hard to get off the 
subject of the big fellow. I can testify that he had a double quota 
of the milk of human kindness ; with all of his power he was never 
deliberately cruel. As evidence, I cite a game wherein he had the 
opportunity to crucify me, but didn't. That was when I caught a 
forward pass in Jim's defensive zone, fell, and tried to crawl for- 
ward an extra yard or two. Under the present rules, as you know, 
the ball is dead when any part of the ball carrier's body other than 
his feet, touches the ground. 

Before the passage of that rule a runner who attempted to roll 
or crawl forward was, in football parlance, "asking for it." If he 
got a lot of knees in his back and his head torn off, he could not 
yelp a legitimate protest. 

Hence, when I tried to crawl, Thorpe could have murdered me. 

One Second to Make Up Your Mind 249 

Instead, he simply threw one leg over me, bore me to the ground 
and said, "If Georgie wants to play horsie, Jim will ride him." 

Let's have a look now at a situation in modern football requiring 
a decision which Bill Karr, our right end, must make in one second 
several times during the afternoon when we play the Detroit Lions. 

That little problem is put up to Karr when Detroit starts one 
of its infamous sweeps around the weak, or short side, of our line 
after the shift to the right. To Karr it looks like the charge of the 
Light Brigade because the Lions' tackle and guard join the backs 
to run interference for that swift, ground-gaining fool, Ernie Cad- 
dell of Stanford. And those blockers run hard and hit hard, make 
no mistake about that! 

During the second required to get that massive, but beautifully 
timed formation underway, Karr must choose between two courses 
of action. He may decide to try to keep his feet, fighting off the two 
backs who head the procession and drifting with the runner, until 
the marines arrive to help him. Or he can knife in, going under the 
entire interference at its inception in an attempt to upset the whole 
lot. I have seen him stack up the gang many times. He is not large, 
as league players go, but very able and adept at throwing his weight 

Bill Karr is warlike only while the battle is on. When there is 
no action, he is quiet and almost shy. Hence, I was a little surprised 
when he flew into a rage at me, during a lull in a game between the 
Green Bay Packers and the Bears. We had taken the ball to the 
Green Bay two -yard line and there Bronko Nagurski was badly 
hurt. I got permission from the officials to go on the field and have 
a look at the Bronk. I stood beside Karr as the trainer worked on 
Nagurski. Karr had had a crack on the head on the preceding play, 
for he suddenly looked around in amazement and asked, "How in 
the world did we get clear down here?" 

I guessed that he was out of his head so I asked him, "What 
do you do on 12-29, Bill?" The question angered him. He yanked 
off his headgear, threw it on the ground and I thought he was going 
to swing at me. 

"It's a fine thing!" he said. "It's a fine thing when the coach 
doesn't even know his own signals. How can we beat a tough outfit 
like this when the coach doesn't know we haven't got any 12-29?" 

It so happens that 12-29 is a forward pass play with Karr on 
the receiving end. So I said, "Come on, Bill, let's get away from all 

250 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

these people and go for a quiet walk." The quiet walk was to the 
bench, where the fog enveloping Bill soon wore off. 

That game brought out another example of one-second thinking 
by Lou Gordon, Green Bay tackle. It involved a punch which 
traveled about thirty yards. Now the contests between the Packers 
and Bears are played for keeps ; both teams try to keep unnecessary 
roughness down to a minimum, but when big, muscular, young men 
are in continuous body contact it isn't any wonder that a fist flies 
occasionally. Joe Stydahar, our giant tackle, was enjoying a respite 
on the bench when he saw Beattie Feathers' head suddenly jerk 
backward from a well placed uppercut and Stydahar credited Lou 
Gordon of Green Bay with the punch. He was wrong, as it later 
developed, for Gordon was not the hitter. 

Even so, Stydahar started his punch from the ground as he left 
the bench and he was still throwing it in one motion when he ap- 
proached Gordon, who had been thirty yards away when the swing 
got under way. Someone yelled, "Look out, Lou!" and Gordon 
glanced up just in time. He didn't have a second to make a decision ; 
in a flash he made up his mind — to duck ! Stydahar's fist sailed past, 
pulling the big tackle after it and depositing him on the ground, 
face down. 

After the game the boys were brought together and shook 
hands. But Gordon told Stydahar aggrievedly, "Say, if you had hit 
me I might have been hurt bad!" The Bears reassured him, telling 
him he would merely have been short one head! 

Hurried thinking is the rule rather than the exception in major 
football competition, whether college or professional. Sometimes a 
forward passer has to make a lightning decision. One such instance 
comes to my mind, involving the great forward passing battery of 
the Green Bay Packers — namely, Arnold Herber throwing touch- 
down passes to Don Hutson, formerly of Alabama. Don Hutson, 
you may recall, was the hero of the Crimson Tide's victory over 
Stanford in the Rose Bowl two or three years ago. 

Don is a great pass receiver. He is extraordinarily fast and 
frequently runs away from the man assigned to guard him. He cuts 
in and cuts back with the elusiveness of a great open field runner. 
But it is well to remember that in Arnold Herber he had a pitcher 
who throws nothing but strikes. 

The incident I have led up to occurred in a game against the 
Bears. As Hutson sped down the field on a forward pass play, two 

One Second to Make Up Your Mind 251 

of our backs covered him, one ahead to his right, the other to his 
left. Herber saw the defenders closing in and knew that Hutson 
had little chance of taking a pass thrown ahead of him. The passer 
anticipated Hutson's next move and threw the ball short. His an- 
ticipation was perfect, for Hutson, without looking over his shoul- 
der, suddenly stopped dead, whirled and came back, to find the ball 
floating to him. Had he not raised his hands and gathered it in, the 
ball would have struck his chest, so accurate was Herber's timing. 

On all forward passes, of course, a secondary defense man is 
constantly confronted with the problem of instantaneous action, 
when a few steps in the wrong direction can lead to disaster. If you 
want to see this problem for yourself, watch the secondary defense 
men, instead of the forward passer, when it is obvious that a pass 
play is developing. At least one unlucky defender will have to make 
up his mind between two potential receivers, either of whom may 
be in line to take the throw. 

One of the toughest quick decisions to make in football is re- 
quired of the safety man when he must field a punt on his own 
15- or 18-yard line with the opposing ends bearing down on him. 
Any decision he makes involves risk. If he signals for a fair catch, 
his team is placed in a bad spot. If he decides to catch the ball and 
try to run it back, he may fumble, the opponents may recover and 
the enemy is then within easy striking distance of a touchdown. If 
he decides to let the ball strike the ground and roll over the line for 
a touchback, there is always the strong possibility that the crazy 
thing may bounce backward or sideways, roll out of bounds on the 
one- or two-yard line or be recovered by an alert, fast end before it 
crosses the goal. 

Along with practically all other football fanatics, I get a kick 
out of the safety man who doesn't hesitate to field the ball and run 
it back. The masters of punt returns, within my experience, were 
or are Keith Molesworth of Monmouth ; Cliff Battles of West Vir- 
ginia Wesleyan; Dutch Clark of Colorado; Paddy Driscoll of 
Northwestern; Bob Monett of Michigan State; Joe Laws of Iowa, 
and. a fellow named Grange. 

And while we're on the subject of punting I'll confide that there 
is a player on our Bears' squad who can punt sixty-five and seventy- 
five yards at will but is never permitted to boot the ball. The player 
is Jack Manders, who has place kicked 179 out of 182 attempts at 

252 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

conversion after touchdowns. He has also won so many games for us 
by field goals that the sports writers call him "Automatic Jack." 

Two years ago I unwisely decided to let Jack do the punting in 
our post-season exhibition games on the Pacific Coast. He punted 
in practice all week before the first game and kicked 65 and 75 
yards regularly. In the game he also booted high, long and hand- 
some. But he attempted three easy field goals and missed all three ! 
That was when I decided he was through as a punter. A little 
research revealed the reason punting and place kicking do not mix. 

A good kicker meets the ball with his instep arched high and 
his toes straight, possibly bent down a little. Moreover, he whips his 
foot across the ball to get a spiral. In place kicking, success depends 
upon meeting the ball squarely, with the toes slightly upturned, 
the arch down, with a straight follow-through. The entire procedure 
is exactly opposite that involved in punting. 

You are asked to bear with me now, while I relate an example 
of spur-of-the-moment thinking by your tale teller. It is recited 
chiefly because it brings old Jim Thorpe back into the picture. Only 
a few people know that Jim chased me on the longest run in the 
history of football — 140 yards ; not, however, as the crow flies. You 
won't find the run in the record book, but Thorpe will verify it. 

It happened in a professional football game. With the field as 
sticky as molasses and the ball as slippery as a watermelon seed, 
Jim fumbled on our four-yard line and Georgie Halas, who hap- 
pened to be loitering in the neighborhood, picked up the ball and 
started to run, with Thorpe in hot pursuit and mad as a hornet. 
Although I had a good lead I knew that Jim would overtake me 
and like all great men in a crisis I had an inspiration. I knew 
Thorpe never made an orthodox tackle. He simply threw his body 
at the runner, or whipped a leg across him bringing him down boom ! 

I wasn't interested so much in the possible touchdown, as in 
avoiding being brought down boom— so when I judged that Thorpe 
was near enough to launch his body at me like one of Jehovah's 
thunderbolts, I zigged to the right. When he approached again, I 
zagged to the left. I kept zigging, then zagging until we reached 
the fifteen-yard line. There Jim threw himself at me, his hands 
slapping one of my heels. The slap upset me but I rolled over and 
onto my feet, reeling across the goal line. There I flopped on my 
back with no interest whatever in anything, especially football. 
Finally enough strength returned to enable me to rise up on my 

One Second to Make Up Your Mind 253 

elbow and look back at Thorpe. He was still lying on his back in 
the mud on the fifteen-yard line, spread eagled, and equally dis- 
interested in current events. Later, we calculated that we had run 
140 yards, in round figures, in what is usually called a "veritable 

The tackle is the boy who has to make some quick decisions and 
opposing teams and coaches do everything within their power to 
help him guess the wrong way. In major football, the attacking 
team asks only that it can successfully lure the defensive tackle one 
foot out of position. 

As an illustration, I'll expose a cute little plot cooked up by 
the New York Giants against our Bear tackles. This may be the 
Giants' first notification that we were on to their crafty maneuver. 
I'll expose it here for it is not too technical. 

Frequently the Giants' end would line up two yards away from 
his own tackle instead of the usual one yard. They hoped our 
tackle's innermost thoughts would be something like this: "Oh ho! 
That end has moved out so he can hit me from the side and box me 
in, with the play going outside me. I'll fix their little game. I'll 
move out wide also." 

That was what the Giants wanted. If the tackle moved out, 
they'd cross him by sending the ball carrier inside him. An alter- 
native hope was that when the tackle moved out wider than normally 
the entire Bear line would overshift, paving the way for a reverse 
to the other flank. 

One of the features of our own offense, the man-in-motion, is 
designed to give the opposing end and secondary men food for 
lightning, and we hope, confused, thought. 

When the Bears come out of the huddle and go into battle 
formation, we often send one of the halfbacks galloping far to the 
left or right. Let's assume it is to the right. When he gets out there, 
any one of several things may happen. He may be used merely as 
a decoy, to pull one of the secondary defense men out of position, 
leaving a vacancy into which a forward pass may be thrown. 

Again, a lateral pass may be thrown to the man on the outpost. 
He may then run with the ball if he isn't properly covered or he 
may relay the ball to an eligible receiver ranging downfield. 

On the other hand, he may come charging back, moving momen- 
tarily toward his own goal, as the ball is snapped, to comply with 
the rules, then swerving in to get a sideswipe at the opposing end. 

254 Esquire's Fiest Sports Reader 

The end must not only be prepared for this contingency, but he 
also must look out for blockers from the opposite direction. 

Yes, football is a lovely game, with offenses growing more com- 
plicated each year, as coaches strive for deception, deception, de- 
ception. That is all right with me. The game now places a premium 
on both physical and mental speed, on the part of the players, with 
decreasing emphasis on aimless, brute strength. That is why you 
will find big fellows sitting on many a bench while smaller, more 
agile and faster-thinking men carry on. But when you have a big 
powerful fellow who thinks fast and moves fast, then you have 
something. If you know any of that type give me a ring. 

Modern Sporting Rirles 


December, 191fi 

The true gun fan is a queer duck. He loves his shooting irons 
more than some men love their wives, and he may lavish upon 
them more affection. Possibly you will grasp the seriousness 
of his malady when we tell you it is even more deeply-rooted than 
that of the butterfly collector, the fly-fisherman, or the stamp col- 
lector. Now that we have the species identified, we shall hurry on. 

This spasm on sporting firearms, which might be tagged a 
powwow on "fall rifle creations" or "advice to frustrated sports- 
men," was conceived for the real "gun-nut" and not for the genus 
homo who, the minute he barges into a gun shop, comes down with 
an acute attack of buy-ology. 

We have learned a lot about sporting arms in the last few years 
and more about military arms in the last few weeks, and when 
"finis" is written on the current blood-bath in Europe, you will 
witness a deluge of fresh-hatched sporting arms. 

One hundred years ago a rifle was practically a social outcast 
unless it could sport a barrel of 48 inches or thereabouts — nearly 
as long as a fishing rod. Shotgun barrels were almost as bad. Custom 
and other factors made for long barrels. Long barrels were neces- 
sary to give time for the complete combustion of the full charge of 
slow-burning black powder, to increase the sighting radius, (as 
accuracy of aim is in proportion to the distance between the two 
iron sights), to afford ample weight for steady holding, and to 
neutralize recoil, and muzzle blast, and finally to "make her look 
like a sure 'nuf gun." But the rifleman paid a stiff price for these 
real or fancied assets. Long and heavy rifle barrels are unwieldy, 
cumbersome, and slow-pointing, and these qualities quite offset the 
advantages in the other direction. New powders have altered the 
whole rifle-shooting setup. 

Many high-intensity rifle cartridges developed with special 


256 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

powders have their own characteristics as to rate of burning, and 
they are very sensitive to changes in barrel lengths. Barrel lengths 
of 24 inches are standard for velocity tests of sporting arms; and 
for barrels a few inches shorter or a few inches longer the velocity 
of high-power rifles varies from 20 to 40 foot-seconds per inch ; in 
barrels under 20 inches the ratio increases greatly. 

Usage has decreed these lengths : 

Small-bore (.22 caliber) rifles for hunting and tin-can shooting, 
20 to 27 inches, with 24 inches as the best compromise. 

Small-bore target rifles, 28 inches. 

Standard rifles for medium and big game shooting, 24 inches. 
If the rifle is to be carried largely in a saddle scabbard, 20 to 22 
inches is best. 

Extra-long-range hunting rifles such as the new .300 Win- 
chester Magnum, 26 inches. 

Big-bore (.30 caliber) target rifles such as the Winchester Bull 

gun in the .300 Magnum, 30 inches. 

* * * 

Rifle weights have undergone just as radical changes as barrel 
lengths. When the West was ydung and crude, the sturdy pioneer 
saddled himself with a ponderous arm weighing 16 to 25 pounds, 
and in his iron grasp it may have been as wieldy as a baton — not 
so with his puny offspring. 

If perchance our hero happens to be a big game hunter with a 
yen for snooping around over stilted mountains after bucks that 
seem to be on transcontinental tours, and dotes on inhaling his fresh 
air on the hoof, he will need a lot of courage even to think of 
juggling an anchor-like arm in the high stretches where the air is 
thin and the grades are steep. Mountain scaling is a sport for 
youth — well, at any rate not for the Nimrod who has passed mile 
Number 40, or who happens to be a bottle-scarred veteran with 
little regard for girth control. In those rarified vacuums that seem 
constantly to pursue you in the high country, a heavy rifle wears 
you down to a nubbin. 

Light equipment with more miles and more fun, and less fatigue 
is immeasurably preferable to heavy stuff with less miles, less fun 
and more fatigue. So, choose a lightweight, portable rifle, with 
medium-length barrel, even if it cannot be held as steady as a heavy 
one and even at the cost of increased muzzle blast and recoil and 
decreased velocity. 

Modern Sporting Rifles 257 

Weights of hunting and plinking .22 caliber rifles should vary 
from five to eight pounds, depending upon the strength of the 
shooter and the type of shooting; special chuck or prairie-dog 
rifles, 9 to 12 pounds; informal .22 caliber-target rifles, 8 to 10 
pounds; special match-target rifles, 10 to 12% pounds, depending 
upon the brawn of the shooter. 

Standard big-game rifles: 7^4 to 8% pounds; if to be carried 
in saddle boot, 6 to 7% pounds. 

Extra-long-range, scope-sighted rifles, for special types of 
hunting, mainly sheep and goat rifles, 8% to 9 pounds. This is not 
the rifle for the ordinary hunter but for the expert Nimrod who 
knows what it's all about. 


More changes are taking place in the various lines of .22 caliber 
rim-fire rifles than in any other. Here are a few of our observations : 

Slide-action rifles have lost their grip. Their accuracy is of a 
low order as a rule, and there have been practically no improve- 
ments since they were first introduced nearly forty years ago. A 
scope cannot be used to advantage on those with top ejection, and 
this has proved a serious handicap. Speed of fire is about their only 
excuse for existence. 

Bolt-action repeaters and automatics have revolutionized .22 
rim-fire rifles. They put the bee on the slide-actions. 

Bolt-action repeaters are being made with fuller butt plates, 
larger grips, fuller forearms, better safeties, longer and heavier 
barrels made of better steel, and with a speed-action, one that won't 
spatter oil all over your cheaters. Action of the bolt rifles is superb 
— far superior to anything in the slide-action line. 

Rifles with tubular magazines predominate because they hold 
more hulls but they are not so safe as rifles with box magazines. 
Shooters don't like to be reloading all the time. The trend in all .22's 
is toward better sights, with aperture (peep) sights predominating 
—some of them with micrometer adjustments for elevation and 

Bolt handles and actions are so constructed that scopes may be 
mounted in low position, which is a decided break for the rifleman, 
as well as for the scope manufacturer. 

Most of the better-grade rifles and some of the cheap ones are 

258 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

equipped with detachable sling swivels, and in many cases, slings 
are furnished. Flush take-down screws in the forearms make a big 
hit with the man who carries his rifle balanced in one hand, and 
who doesn't most of the time? 

Some splendid low-priced .22 automatic rifles have recently 
been placed on the market, but one or two pack a lot of static. 

Two keen, medium-priced target rifles have made their appear- 
ance in recent months. They feature superb accuracy, unusually 
well-designed target stocks, good target sights, and fast ignition. 


In the high-power field, we see tremendous advancement and 
pleasing refinements. The big game rifles feature stocks of advance 
design, of finer quality, and artistically ornamented, fuller fore- 
arms, neatly checkered; more carefully bored barrels; actions 
affording smooth, fast ignition ; actions and bolts designed to facili- 
tate the use of scopes ; iron sights are of sturdier construction, most 
of them of the aperture (peep) variety, many with micrometer 
adjustments for windage and elevation. These sights can be locked 
so as to prevent unintentional change. 

Especially sturdy actions designed to handle high intensity 
cartridges are a major improvement of the newer high-power arms. 

Front sight ramps add neatness as well as efficiency to the de 
luxe hunting rifles. 

Cheek-rests have been featured on the better quality of arms. 

Quick-detachable sling swivels and neat one-inch sporting-type 
leather slings have been added to the finest grade of rifles — a great 
help in carrying the rifle as well as in tying down the rifleman's 
wildest gyrations, as the hunter who has to trek over much rough 
terrain will observe, if he is a very observing party. 


Our advice to the big game hunter is to get riveted to a rifle 
that will hand the quarry a terrific jolt and set him back on his 
haunches. What is needed is a rifle with a margin of power — excess 
foot-pounds — for the animal hunted. No genuine sportsman wants 
to use an arm that he knows is too light to give quick, clean kills 
with the minimum suffering. "Clean kills and no cripples" call for 

Modern Spoeting Rifles 259 

an arm that packs a wallop. Better to have too much than too little 
power. Here are some specific recommendations: 

For squirrels, crows, hawks, (depending upon regulations) and 
the lighter varieties of vermin, the .22 caliber long rifle, solid or 
hollow-point bullets, standard or high-speed. Cartridges with 
standard velocities are the most accurate, but the high-speed variety 
are the best killers. 

For jack rabbits at short range, and some of the larger varieties 
of vermin, the .22 Winchester Rim Fire (.22 Remington Special) 
and the .25 Stevens Rim Fire. These calibers are a little shy of 
killing power for real tough varmints. 

For general jack rabbit shooting, prairie dogs, woodchucks, 
buzzards, badgers, wildcats, and foxes, the .218 Winchester Bee, 
Winchester .219 Zipper, .22 Hornet, and .25-20. 

For coyotes and lobos, the .220 Winchester Swift, .22 Savage 
Hi-Power, .25-35, .250-3000 Savage, .257 Roberts, .270 Win- 
chester, and 7 mm. 

For deer, sheep and antelope, .250-3000 Savage, .257 Roberts, 
.270 Winchester, 7 mm., .30-40 Krag, .300 Savage, .30-30, .30-06, 
and .300 Magnum. 

For black bear, goat, caribou, and elk, the .270 Winchester, 7 
mm., .300 Savage, .30-40 Krag, .300 Magnum, and .348 Win- 

For moose, grizzly and Kodiac bear, and African and Indian 
soft skin game, the .30-06, .300 Winchester Magnum, .348 Win- 
chester, (Short-range) and .375 Winchester Magnum. 

For dangerous African and Indian game, the .470 double barrel 
Nitro Express rifle. 

We now propose to unscramble a few of the better firearms by 
naming names and by giving you the dope on them. Let's start with 
the .22's. The first rifle we want to tell you about was Spawned by 
Winchester — the Winchester Model 52 Sporting rifle — the piece de 
resistance of all sporting rifles. It's a diamond in a field of chipped- 
glass — the rifle for the connoisseur. Built on a splendid new bolt 
action, it features a stock that fits the average man like a glove, and 
makes him wonder if it wasn't hand-tailored to his measure. With 
a nicely tapered, racy barrel, as pleasing to the eye as it is accurate 
and equipped with sights that are simple, sturdy, and dependable, 
the rifle is as eye-filling as a trim ankle. No doubt about it, when 

260 Esquire's Fikst Sports Reader 

you spot that pip of a rifle in which are blended beauty and utility 
your heart will turn flip-flops. But ninety dollars is a tidy sum even 
for the sweetest little rifle that ever saw the light of day. 

If the bank account can't stand the pressure of the de luxe 
Winchester 52 Sporting rifle, perhaps you would like to consider 
the new Winchester 75 Sporting rifle, built on the same chassis as 
the crack Winchester 75 Target rifle. The engineer who designed 
this neat little package must have kept in the back of his mind's 
eye the hunter with the ever transparent pocketbook, of which there 
seem to be skads here and there and around and about nowadays. 
A man can occasionally hold out 30 bucks on the little woman, but 
to loot the family till to the tune of 90 smackers might be disastrous. 
For the fan who wants something substantially better than the 
run-of-the-mill rifles, the Winchester 75 Sporting rifle should tickle 
him pink. It is a bolt-action rifle, with a darb of a stock which is 
checkered and it is fitted with steel butt plate; 24-inch tapered 
barrel, 1-inch sling swivels, and can be had in two standard sight 
combinations, Designers stressed utility more than refinements — 
refinements contribute eye-appeal, but little utility. Just the gun 
if you're low on chips. Better sneak a peek. 

Remington Model 513-S "Sporter" is one of the latest rifles to 
take a bow. It's strictly a man-sized arm with neat appearance and 
good weight. It is a smart, streamlined sporting rifle with excellent 
pistol grip stock, a good action, and pleasing lines. That rifle is 
going places, and it isn't going to be long about it either. Savage 
23-AA is one of the older rifles but it has proved its mettle. 

In the medium-priced target rifles there are two newcomers that 
rate special mention. One is the Winchester Model 75 Target rifle 
which has the same speed action as the 75 Sporting rifle but is 
fitted with a target stock, with adjustable sling swivels, a 28-inch 
barrel, drilled and tapped for target scope blocks, and is furnished 
with a Winchester extension rear peep sight, similar to Lyman 52 
sight. Both front and rear sights are quickly detachable, and leave 
the rifle clean for scope. Weight about 8 pounds with sling; 7% 
pounds without. This is a keen target rifle of its class and is going 

Remington "Matchmaker" Model 513-T is a little brother to 
the superb Remington Model 37 "Rangemaster," except that it is 
a popular-priced arm, with lighter barrel and slightly smaller stock. 
The barrel is of the semi-floating match type, 27 inches long, and 

Modeen Spouting Rifles 261 

the weight of the arm with the leather sling, which is furnished, is 
9 pounds. Fitted with a splendid medium-priced stock, with adjust- 
able sling swivels, and Redfield globe front sight. The rifle is 
equipped with speed ignition, trigger pull is smooth and crisp with 
anti-backlash trigger stop. In the Remington 513-T Target rifle, 
we have a keen arm upon which any manufacturer should be proud 
to hang his monogram, and further, it's going to give shooters a 
sensation and competitors a headache. Unless we are a locoed 
prophet, this new target rifle is going to bring down showers of 
manna from heaven in the form of cash orders. The new Remington 
has basked little in the limelight to date, but it is a comer as sure 
as shooting. 

Savage Model 19 and Stevens Model 416-2 bolt-action rifles 
continue to give a good account of themselves in the medium-priced 
target rifle class. They are too well known to require description 

There is this to be said about commercial small-bore .22 caliber 
target rifles for match shooting: You couldn't run fast enough to 
hand a veteran "belly-shooter" anything but one of the two stand- 
bys, the Winchester Model 52 with either heavy barrel or extra 
heavy barrel (Bull Gun) with Marksman stock — a rifle to hang 
your eyes on — the choice of champs for years — the rifle of 10,000 
X's — or the revamped Remington Model 37 "Rangemaster" (1940 
version) with new Remington-Randle target stock, and the Rem- 
inton-Sweany speed-trigger with anti-backlash stop — a rifle that 
will make your heart skip a coupla beats unless the old pump is 
petrified. If you are going out for blood in this small-bore festival, 
you might just as well make up your mind to jar loose from enough 
turnips to get yourself one of these whizz-dingers, as nothing else 
is just as good or even nearly as good, although some of the custom 
jobs on these two actions have plenty on the ball. The stocks of 
these two rifles are the acme of perfection for the average shooter, 
and if necessary they can be worked over to fit the Hunchback of 
Notre Dame. The barrels of these two commercial rifles will groove 
'em as well as the best custom-tailored barrels, or better on the 
average, and they cost a lot less. 

In the commercial high-power, bolt-action field, Winchester 
Model 70 and Remington Model 720, stand head and shoulders 
above all competitors. The Winchester is made in two grades — 
Standard and Super Grade, and in three types : Sporting rifle, short 

262 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

rifle and target. Barrel lengths of Winchester sporting rifles, 20, 
24, 25, and 26 inches. The Remington is made in one grade only.- 
Barrel lengths, 20, 22, and 24 inches. 

Lever-action fans have a larger assortment from which to 
choose. In the medium-power field, there are the crack Models 64 
(made in two grades: Standard and Deer rifle and in two barrel 
lengths, 20 and 24 inches) and the Winchester Model 65. 

In the high-power line, there are three leve^-action rifles of 

unusual merit, the Winchester Models 64 and 71, and the Savage 

Model 99 series with solid frames. 

m * * 

The secret of skill in shooting at game in motion with rifle or 
shotgun is a little matter of timing, which is rated as one of the fine 
arts; but the technique of shooting with the two types of arms is 
entirely different. Keep the rifle stationary when firing at moving 
game instead of "following through" as does the shotgun shooter. 
Simply align your sights just ahead of the fleeing animal and then 
when he gets to the right place, according to your calculations, 
squeeze her off in the approved fashion. Running game, like birds 
in flight, do not stop to wait for your bullet — you must shoot ahead 
of the moving target — lead, as we say in the vernacular, to make up 
for the speed of the animal, for the time necessary to squeeze off 
your shot, and for the time it takes the bullet to reach the moving 
target. If you want to fail completely just try to hold it on 'em and 
"follow through" with the rifle as is the custom with the shotgun. 
That's the right way to make the wrong start and to go forward 
in reverse. 

There is a right and wrong way to shoot, but the natural in- 
clination is to do it the wrong way. Keep both eyes open when shoot- 
ing, provided your aiming eye is also your master eye. Nature did 
not provide you with two eyes without cause. Why cut down your 
vision over 50 per cent when you can use two eyes for the price of 
one? Your eyes are range finders, employing the same principles 
but not to the same degree as the range-finders on a battleship and 
with two eyes you possess the faculty of seeing stereoptically. 

With two-eyed vision you are more likely to detect the presence 
in line of fire of a companion or a domestic animal, and it is con- 
sidered very bad taste in polite society to plug your host, or his 
pedigreed bull. In rare instances, a hunter may find that he can do 
better shooting by partly closing the non-aiming eye instead of 

Modern Sporting Rifles 263 

keeping it wide open. Try both methods thoroughly before settling 
to one, but if your master eye is also your aiming eye, it's almost a 
cinch that you can do better shooting with both eyes open. 

Well, so long for this time and "May your trigger finger never 
lose its magic !" 

Is Basketball a Killer? 


April, 191$ 

he day after the Homecoming football game at Carleton in 
1930, when I had just begun preparing for my first season 
as a basketball coach, six of our students were stricken by 
poliomyelitis — the dread infantile paralysis. Dr. Edward Rosenow 
of the Mayo Clinic rushed to Northfield from Rochester, sixty miles 
away. Nevertheless, two of the victims died. 

Among those who recovered was Dick Arney, my first Ail- 
American basketball star. Arney, then a sophomore, received half 
a dozen spinal injections. But the crisis passed, and he was able to 
play in the December games against Illinois and Northwestern. 

Two and a half years later when his ability and unlimited 
confidence had brought him All- American recognition, it was un- 
known to the public that for three seasons he had played with his 
back strapped. Arney had used basketball as a road to recovery — 
which is significant, I think, at the present time when there is 
agitation against basketball as a man-killer. "The exercise I got 
out of the game," declares Arney, who is now Midwestern Sales 
Manager for the Hormel Company of Austin, Minnesota, "did more 
to keep me from suffering permanent ill effects than anything else." 

There has been much loose talk about the new speed game, sans 
the conventional center tip-off. Complaints have been registered 
that the play is too hard on the players- — that it burns them out, 
causing a health hazard. 

As secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Basketball 
Coaches, it is my duty to keep in touch with the leaders of the game. 
In view of the controversy that has gathered as a result of the 
abolition of the center- jump, I took it upon myself to question the 
leading coaches on the subject of whether they believed the new 
game really is dangerous to the men. I found that none of them 
believed there was any reason for alarm. 


Is Basketball a Killer? 265 

There is no question about the new game being popular. The 
fast character of the game at present is the big reason for its sudden 
growth of popularity the last few years. Suspense, see-sawing 
leads, uncertainty of form, are a part of it. There are no lags now. 
The game moves. What put this "modern" touch in basketball was 
the junking of the center- jump in 1937, and the addition of the 
10-second rule. 

The absence of the interruption of the center- jump makes for 
a continuous flow of speed, surging and ebbing back and forth up 
and down the floor. The climaxes of a close game build up like a 
well-organized plot. There is pace, which quickly steams up the 
spectators into a high pitch of excitement. 

In spite of the fact that admittedly such a type of continuous 
game might over-tax a player in the moments of a tense drive, the 
coaches who are closer to the competitors than anyone else, all 
claim that they have noticed no signs of strain on their men. Nels 
Norgren of Chicago, president of N. A. B. C, stated: "Assuming 
that the player has a sound body, that the consent of the school's 
medical authority for him to compete has been given, and that his 
physical condition has been gradually exercised for competitive 
play, I do not think basketball is a health hazard." 

For many years Ward Lambert of Purdue has been teaching a 
fast-break game very similar to the conditions prevailing under the 
new center- jumpless game, and he says: "The boys I coached as 
far back as 1910 are all healthy and I know of no harm that has 
come to any of my players because of basketball. If there is any- 
thing wrong with the game, thousands of school superintendents 
are on the wrong track, for there are more boys playing basketball 
than any other sport." 

John Bunn, Dean of Men at Stanford and former coach who 
developed Hank Luisetti, has made a scientific study of the subject. 
"From some of my own studies on fatigue," he reports, "I find 
that there are numerous other activities which require a longer 
recovery period than present-day basketball." And Sam Barry of 
Southern California maintains : "It has been proved by scientific 
research that it is not as hard on a basketball player in the present 
game to play forty minutes as it is for a quarter-miler to run 440 
yards in a tough race." 

Good conditioning obviously is essential for basketball, and all 
coaches make use of all the recognized safeguards, foremost among 

266 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

which are weekly physical checkups, frequent substitutions and 
sanely spaced schedules. Doug Mills, Illinois coach, gives one good 
reason why basketball players maintain safe physical condition. 
"Basketball is one game," he says, "that the players love to prac- 
tice, and because they love the practice they get themselves into fine 
condition. This is often not true of some other forms of athletics 
in which the practice period is pure drudgery." 

After making a survey of 186 coaches, the research committee 
of the N. A. B. C. concluded that "the harmfulness of the game (if 
it is harmful) is the result of varying degrees of physical fitness in 
the players and to outside factors such as improper training, 
heavier scholastic loads, and outside work." 

Two Carleton forwards who followed in Dick Arney's All- 
American footsteps — Wayne Sparks and Oscar (Sonny) Olson, 
testify that there have been no ill effects of their play. The same 
goes for Paul (Skip) Crawford, who went from Carleton to Peru 
where he taught the South Americans how to play the game. And 
every time I see Dick Arney I am proud of the fact that basketball 
helped pull him through the physical crisis of his life. 

Bet Against the Experts 


September, 191$ 

IF you played a game of chess with a master sitting behind you 
and directing your moves it is a moral certainty that you 
would beat any ordinary opposition. What kick you would 
get out of being a dummy for an expert is another question. 

And if you sat down to bridge or contract with a top-flight 
expert coaching you in your bids and controlling your play it also 
is a moral certainty that you would have little trouble against any- 
thing except similarly expert opposition. Again it is debatable 
whether there would be any emotional or intellectual wallop in being 
stooge for an expert. 

I never have been able to understand how anyone can get 
any pleasure from backing horses taken from a public selector on 
a racing sheet, scratch sheet or daily newspaper. But the analogy 
with the other games is far from exact. A chess or bridge expert 
would win for you, but no single horse selector in the country, and 
no group of selectors, ever will show you anything but loss on 
their choices if followed religiously over a period of time. 

This is a fact well known among people who are something more 
than amateurs at the racing game; nevertheless each standard 
racing sheet continues to employ five or six selectors, each large city 
newspaper has a selector or two on the payroll, and the newsstands 
continue to display a load of scratch sheets and tip sheets that 
would take a wheelbarrow to cart away. 

Of course, there is one very definite reason why no public 
selector ever does or ever can show a profit from following his 
choices with real money. These people guide the public, and the 
load of public money attracted to their choices in the mutuel 
machines depresses prices paid in the event of a win substantially 
below the point that would permit the attainable thirty to forty 
per cent winners to recoup losses from the inevitable sixty to sev- 


268 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

enty per cent losers. Even if some single selector got very hot and 
began to pick a tremendous percentage of winners, no profit would 
result from following him in play. He would immediately attract 
a very large public following whose money in the machines would 
depress prices paid by his winners to a point that would throw the 
whole sequence of plays into a net loss. 

Not only are the public selectors working against themselves 
and the public in that they attract price-slaughtering public money 
when they name a horse as winner. They also are chronic followers 
of present form in a horse. If an animal has won his last start they 
are much given to picking him to win today, even though he may 
be flagrantly inconsistent and even though today's field may be 
substantially better than the one he beat last out. All the selectors 
are abject slaves of this fallacy; nothing is more common than to 
see in a racing sheet after a selector's choice a note like "Last a 
beaut," "Won last out," "On edge now," or some equivalent ex- 
pression indicating the selector's preoccupation with the horse's 
last race only. Since nearly all of them are present form handi- 
cappers, there usually is some agreement in their opinions on a 
race, unless it obviously is wide open and close between several 
animals, and this tendency to unanimity among selectors is an- 
other factor tending to overload with public money the horse that 
most of them like. 

Early in 1940 I began to work out some rating figures on 
horses primarily based on the thought that it was a mistake to 
place great emphasis on apparent present form in an attempt to 
get winners. After I had the figures developed I began an accurate 
check to see how they would work out in comparison with selectors' 
choices. This check was begun August 22 and was continued 
through November 15th at Saratoga, Aqueduct, Belmont, Ja- 
maica, Empire, Pimlico and Bowie. Obviously I could not check 
against all the hundreds of individual selectors in the country so as 
representative I determined to check against the top horse in the 
selectors' consensus of one of the standard racing sheets. 

For reasons involving the character of my own figures I did 
not myself rate races for maidens, races for two-year-olds or races 
for horses entered at a claiming valuation of less than $1,500, 
nor would I play a race where a filly or mare rated best in my 
figures unless the race was programmed for females only. On all 
races not excluded by these few and simple rules I developed my 

Bet Against the Experts - 269 

figures — which will be outlined later — and I compared the result 
of betting my horse straight, to win only, with the result of betting 
the racing sheet's consensus top horse in the same race. 

Here are the results of $2 win play on the consensus horse 
in eligible races from August 22nd to November 15th at the tracks 
indicated above. 

Number of plays — 227 

Number of winners — 59 

Per cent of bets that won — 25.9. 

Average price to $1 on winners — $1.76. 

Net loss from all plays— $127.80. 

Per cent of loss on money risked — 28.1. 

This analysis exactly supports the statements made above, that 
following selectors can lead only to loss and that the primary 
reason is the short prices paid by their winners. 

In the same races, rated by my figures, I made no play where 
the horse that rated best with me also happened to be the con- 
sensus horse. There would have been no sense in including in my 
operation selectors' choices that I knew must lead to loss as a class. 
Playing only against the consensus, therefore, in eligible races 
where my figures put on top some horse other than that taken by 
the consensus, I achieved the following results. 

Number of plays — 126. 

Number of winners — 28. 

Per cent of bets that won — 22.2. 

Average price to $1 on winners — $5.13. 

Net profit from all plays — $91.40. 

Per cent of profit on money risked — 36.2. 

A reader will observe, in comparing my results with those 
achieved by the consensus, that although my percentage of bets 
won was slightly inferior — 22.2 to the consensus' 25.9 — neverthe- 
less the average price I realized on winners was greatly higher — 
$5.13 to $1 as against the consensus' $1.76 to $1. These figures 
epitomize the whole secret of smart play on horses. "To beat the 
races you must beat the prices," and you never can beat the prices 
on selectors' choices that attract public money. 

Before outlining the simple rating figures that enabled me to 
realize the results indicated I should like to point out just what 
I had in mind before I attempted to develop the figures themselves. 

(1) I planned to get figures that could be followed mechani- 

270 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

cally, without any exercise of individual judgment or discretion, 
and yet beat the selectors. 

(2) I planned to get figures that not only would show less loss 
than the selectors but also would show a net profit when applied in 

(3) I planned to get figures that would beat the selectors and 
show a money profit and I proposed to set up horse-ratings of a 
type that could be applied by anyone who could read and add, even 
though he knew nothing about horses and never had seen a race, 
merely by referring to information available in the past perform- 
ance records of a standard racing sheet that required absolutely 
no knowledge of racing and horses to apply. 

In order to get clean away from the present form mania of 
the selectors and to permit my figures to reflect some approxi- 
mately true picture of a horse's real quality, I determined to rate 
each animal on the basis of his actual performance in each of his 
last six starts. 

A past performance line in a racing sheet representing a single 
race of a horse entered today always indicates the class of that 
race, whether a stake, a handicap, an allowance affair or a $4,000, 
$2,500, $1,500 or other valuation claiming event. The line also 
shows the finishing position of the horse, whether first, third, fourth 
or tenth, and gives the number of lengths he was off the leader if 
he did not win. 

For winning a stake race or an important named handicap, 
such as the Brooklyn, Suburban, or Santa Anita, allow 100 points. 
For running second, 85 points; for running third, 65 points; for 
running within five lengths of the leader, whatever the finishing 
position, 45 points. 

For winning any handicap, 90 points; for second, 75 points; 
for third, 55 points; for running within five lengths of winner, 
35 points. 

For winning any allowance race, 80 points; for second, 65 
points ; for third, 45 points ; within five lengths, 25 points. 

For winning a $5,000 claimer, 70 points ; for second, 55 points ; 
for third, 35 points ; within five lengths, 15. 

For winning a $4,000 claimer, 60 points ; for second, 45 points ; 
for third, 30 points ; within five lengths, 10 points. 

For winning a $3,000 claimer, 50 points ; for second, 35 points ; 
for third, 20 points ; within five lengths, 5 points. 

Bet Against the Experts 271 

For winning a $2,500 claimer, 40 points ; for second, 30 points ; 
third, 15 points ; within five lengths, no credit. 

For winning a $2,000 claimer, 30 points ; for second, 25 points ; 
for third, 15 points ; within five lengths, no credit. 

For winning a $1,500 claimer, 20 points; for second, 15 points; 
for third, 10 points ; within five lengths, no credit. 

For winning a $1,000 claimer, 10 points; for second, 5 points; 
for third or within five lengths, no credit. 

The credits earned by each horse in each of his last six starts 
are to be added, and the horse coming out at highest total is the 
best in these figures and a play to win unless he is on top in the 
consensus of selectors' opinions in the racing sheet used by the 
player, in which event the race is a pass and he is not to be 
wagered on. 

A few more directions are necessary. These figures are not to be 
used to rate races for maidens, for two-year-olds or for horses 
valued at less than $1,500 at the claiming price. Pass all such con- 
tests. Also, if a filly or mare rates best do not play her against 
males in the same race however poorly they rate. 

If a race was at a minor track, like all the Canadian courses 
and the American half and three-quarter milers, rate it as if two 
grades lower in the table above. Thus, a handicap at a minor track 
should be rated as a $5,000 claimer, an allowance race as a $4,000 
claimer, a $2,500 claimer as one for $1,500. 

Graded handicaps at major courses, A, B, C, D and E, should 
be rated as follows: A as a straight handicap, B as an allowance 
race, C as a $5,000 claimer, D as a $4,000 claimer and E as a 
$3,000 claimer. 

If a horse ran in a claiming race at a valuation between two 
shown in the table, as $3,500, which is between $4,000 and $3,000, 
rate him as if he ran at the lower figure, $3,000. 

If a horse ran in a maiden special weight .event without claim- 
ing conditions, rate him as if the race had been a claimer of the 
highest valuation where he ever has run in the money. If he never 
has run in the money in a claimer, rate his performance in the 
maiden special weight event as if he had been a $2,000 claimer. 

That is the rating method. In the period of check analyzed at 
the beginning of this article I had one horse — Brodea, in the sixth 
Bowie on November 16th — that won at a mutuel of $64.50 for $2. 
Another winner dug up by these figures paid $27.90 for $2 — 

272 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

John's Star in the sixth Pimlico on November 7th. The average 
price on winners was $5.13 to $1, equivalent to a mutuel of $12.26. 

In the sixth Aqueduct on September 14th, Histrionic was 
ignored by nearly all the selectors becauja he had not won lately 
or even run close up. Nevertheless his record in his last six starts 
was such that he outrated the field in my figures and was a play 
because he was not on top in the selectors' consensus of the sheet 
I use. He won at a mutuel of $18.90. His next start, in the sixth 
Aqueduct on September 21st, he was on top in the consensus on 
account of his previous win, but was beaten by Trysak, which out- 
rated him in my figures. 

In the fifth Saratoga, On August 26th, Get Off was my figure 
liorse. Ignored by the selectors because he had not won or run close 
by lately he nevertheless won and paid a mutuel of $11.70 His 
next start, in the seventh Saratoga on August 31st, Get Off was 
made odds on by selector opinion favoring him because he had won 
in his last attempt, and he did beat Up the Creek, rating better in 
my figures. Then, in the fifth Belmont on September 24th, Up the 
Creek, still rating best in my figures, paid a mutuel of $16.10 in 
beating Get Off. The latter was at a short price because favored by 
the selectors as coming up off a previous win. 

This rating method tosses deliberately into the ashcan nearly 
all of the most cherished notions of amateur and professional han- 
dicappers. It relies strictly on basic horse-quality as evidenced by 
racing performance, and on nothing else. It ignores the matter of 
distance of races ; an animal which has raced only in sprints can be 
figured for a route-race off his last six sprint performances. It 
ignores the matter of track conditions; an animal which has run 
only "on the dry" can be figured off his last six performances for 
a race in the mud. It ignores the matter of times of workout gal- 
lops; a horse which rates best is still a play even though he has 
been outworked in the morning by everything else in the field. It 
ignores the matter of post-position ; the rating horse is a play 
whether he is to start first, third, eighth or twelfth off the rail. The 
figures ignore the matter of jockeys; the horse rating best is not 
to be rejected just because he will not be ridden by a fashionable 
boy. The figures absolutely ignore the matter of weight ; presump- 
tively the horse would not have been entered if grossly over-bur- 
dened. They ignore a handicapper's entire bag of tricks except 
plain ordinary horse-quality as manifested in actual racing over a 

Bet Against the Experts 273 

substantial period. And that is just why they work, because it is 
horse-quality that wins races. 

A player who applies every possible test to a horse in an effort 
to confine his wagers to sure things definitely is on the wrong track. 
He probably will get a higher percentage of winners than these 
figures will show. But his average price on winners will be too low 
because the selectors and the educated part of the racing public 
will have applied the same tests, reached the same conclusions and 
horses, and ruined the prices. The proviso of this rating method of 
mine that the best horse be played only against a consensus prac- 
tically insures against getting on short-priced entrants, and there 
is enough intrinsic handicapping merit in the figures themselves to 
yield a percentage of winners adequate to show a profit at average 
prices experienced. 

Like any method of figuring fields of horses this figure method 
of mine will sometimes lead a player into losing streaks. I experi- 
enced one run of seventeen bets lost in a line. That would have 
ruined any operation based on short-priced horses, but it did not 
prevent this method's showing in excess of thirty per cent profit 
from flat play — same amount on each horse — to win only. 

Cock Doom Makes 
Everybody Equal 

March 19S9 

Shades of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, who fought 
the gallus bankivus with the thought of inspiring their sol- 
diers with courage — which neither their nor any other human 
fighters could hope to rival. Shades of George Washington who 
line-bred a fair-to-middling strain of Irish greys and of Stonewall 
Jackson, whose black Tormentors could hold their own in any com- 
pany. But, shades of shades of Michael Kearney and Peter Hor- 
rocks, old-timers of a few generations ago— who entertained the 
fond delusion that cock fighting is a poor man's sport! 

If either of the last mentioned could have attended the Nine- 
teenth International Cocking Tournament, held somewhere in Dixie 
during the last week of January, 1938, he would have seen this 
myth shattered before his eyes. For, if modern cocking is a poor 
man's sport — then, yachting is a pauper's pastime. 

Poor man's sport! Among the sixteen entrants to this, doubt- 
less the greatest cocking carnival of all time, more than half could 
have written checks in six figures without causing a frown upon a 
single map of their bank's boards of directors. The cost of assem- 
bling over a thousand fighting cocks from a dozen states of the 
Union and two provinces of Canada, by express, fast truck and 
airplane an aggregate of some twenty thousand miles — alone 
would have discouraged any logical person on relief from too fond 
hope of divorcing the big jack from their dough. 

Poor man's sport! 

To be sure, the champion cock fighter of the north, a profes- 
sional who does nothing else but and a gent whose strain of muff, 
whitehackle and grey crosses, consistently massacres all opposition 
in localities where icicles instead of oranges grow, did cart in bur- 
lap bags some fifty-odd chicken roosters some fifteen hundred miles 
to the site of the International Tournament, doubtless with every 


Cock Doom Makes Everybody Equal 275 

expectation of bringing back a substantial slice of the ten thousand 
dollars in prize money. But — as fast as he brought his champions 
into the pit the shuffling furies of the moneyed cockidealists, to 
whom the prize dough meant nothing and the glory of showing the 
gamest and most deadly strain of fighting cocks on earth meant 
everything, knocked them down. 

Long before the solid week of fighting was over, the northern 
champion was frozen to the rail with the tip off his cue and his 
posterior virtually exposed to the chill, damp breeze that blew 
in from the sea. With eight straight losses chalked up against him 
on the huge blackboard which announced to several thousand 
assembled cock fighters and fans, the day by day progress of the 
tournament, he could be seen mumbling to himself in a modulated, 
if somewhat mournful tone of voice and philosophizing upon the 
wisdom of Newton who observed that apples always fall on the 
biggest pile. 

Poor man's sport! 

The Nineteenth International Cocking Tournament was staged 
in an open-air arena, surrounded by palms, tropical plants and 
shrubs. Near by were twenty-five cock houses, each supplied with 
a training table, two cots for the trainers and fifty separate stalls 
for the feathered gladiators. Months before the date set, the world's 
finest game cocks from remote states, from Canada, Hawaii, Mex- 
ico and South America — were shipped to the locale to be acclima- 
tized. To be farm-walked and coop-walked and fed a balanced 
ration to bring them to their physical peak. From two to four 
weeks before the designated date, the trainers for the various en- 
tries journeyed south to gather in their fowl, to feed them an even 
stricter diet consisting largely of lean beef, eggs, oysters and 
selected grains and to put them through a series of exercises de- 
signed to convert the last fractional ounce of chicken fat into hard 

On January 25th, the day before the opening of the tourna- 
ment, an appetizer in the form of a main between a cocker from 
Atlanta, Georgia, reputed to be worth six million and another from 
Ontario, Canada, said to be worth sixty million, was served to the 
impatient crowd already assembled. Each principal showed fifteen 
cocks, the winner of the first eight battles to take the main. The 
stake was a mere thousand dollars, with two hundred additional 
dollars on each fight, but this didn't detract from the international 

276 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

flavor of the event or the intense rivalry of the principals. And the 
winnah, ladies, was the gent with the reputed sixty grand grand, 
who insisted upon tying the two-and-a-half inch steel gaffs upon 
his own chicken roosters. 

The following morning, at nine o'clock, the tournament began, 
but hours before this uniformed police were at hand to direct traffic 
and to keep out law-abiding citizens. The crowd gathered early, 
hungry for stable dope, eager to hear the music of crowing and 
cackling roosters — for not only was this from the point of attend- 
ance and prominence of contestants the most important cocking 
event ever held anywhere, but also, it was in many ways unique. 

From the start, conjecture was kept at white heat by two ques- 
tions. Would the single stroke northern fowl, bred as they were to 
conduct their death battles with inch-and-a-quarter spurs, be able 
to compete on an equal footing with the furiously shuffling, rough 
and tumble Carolina Blues, Nigger Roundheads and Clarets of the 
south at an event in which any length of gaff was permissible — pro- 
vided they were round from socket to point? And, if so, could the 
northern cockers ? several of whom conditioned at home where the 
mercury hovered around zero, maintain in their fowl the essential 
dash, punch and endurance in a clime that was seventy degrees 
warmer ? And throughout the entire week of feathered warfare, 
the ebb and flow of battle gave answer — yes and no. 

"A good game cock can fight in any length heel," a southern 
cocker proclaimed, a statement that seemed flatly contradicted by 
the pathetic showing of the northern champion, whose birds flew 
high, flapped their wings and struck the air — only to fall to earth 
and be fricasseed by fowl which grabbed the first available billhold 
and worked their feet like pistons until something gave way. 

"Northern cocks are no good under these conditions," A Mid- 
western enthusiast stated with authority. And, as if to prove that 
he, too, was all wet, the neighbor of the northern champ, a man 
who had brought down his entry by express two days before the 
opening of the tournament, giving them just enough time to rest 
before their death battles, went on to win his first six fights. Stable 
dope suddenly attacked the senses. Reason went with the wind and 
what should have been a paradise proved a veritable hell for the 

"What's up next? Number Four and Number Five. Number 
Four win two good fights and Number Five ain't win a fight yet. 

Cock Doom Makes Everybody Equal 277 

Hundred to eighty on Number Four! Hundred to seventy-five 
oncet !" 

But the birds care nothing for the odds for or against them. 
They meet in mid-air, three feet from the ground. This time, Num- 
ber Five shows an ace. He tops the other bird and in the first pit- 
ing, Number Four loses a wing. Again, they are pitted and now, 
Number Four, unbalanced by its broken wing, falls to its side to 
be shuffled to death the following instant by the dark horse Num- 
ber Five. 

"How you doing?" a disconsolate gambler asks a fellow ad- 

"Me? I'm so badly bent, if I ever get straightened out I'll curl 
right up again. This time, I lay the odds and for the three fights 
before I take 'em — and I ain't been right yet. Houdini couldn't 
get out of the jam I'm in!" 

From nine in the morning until six at night this went on at 
the International Tournament. Fortunes changed hands daily. 
While one pair of cocks was fighting in the main pit, another pair 
was getting ready. Nor was even this fast enough action for the 
gambling mad crowd. If the fight in the central arena endured more 
than twenty minutes, if both cocks were disabled and neither was 
able to deliver the coup de grace — they were taken to the "drag 
pit," where they might peck and claw at each other until one was 
finally counted out. 

Many people believe cock fights invariably result in the death 
of one of the combatants. This isn't the case. Game cocks have been 
known to lose their first fight, recover from their wounds and win 
the next half-dozen. 

The strictest of rules prevailed at the International Tourna- 
ment. If one cock was on the offensive and the other showed no 
resistance, the handler of the aggressive rooster could call for a 
count. The referee then counted ten and allowed a fifteen-second 
interval for both pitters to nurse their birds. The chickens were 
again pitted and if the groggy fowl again failed to peck or strike, 
another count was chalked against him. Three such counts of ten 
and one of twenty and the fight was over. If both cocks were dying 
and neither was entitled to the count, the fighter that lived the 
longer was declared the winner. If either turned tail, no matter 
what the condition of its adversary, the runaway lost. There were 
no drawn battles. 

278 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

The referee was a quiet-spoken gentleman, of impartiality and 
fearlessness, but a reputation throughout the south of being very 
unpleasant when aroused. If any handler thought his cock was en- 
titled to the count and the referee deemed otherwise, it was useless 
for the handler to dispute the point. 

On the whole, amazing order prevailed. There were ladies pres- 
ent — and profanity was not allowed. Nothing stronger than beer 
and no other form of gambling save betting on the roosters were 
permitted on the grounds. Thousands upon thousands of dollars 
were wagered, without a dollar being put up, without a word of 
misunderstanding. But almost every year, some little incident not 
on the program adds zest to the International Tournament, and. 
1938 was no exception. The setting for such an occurrence is just 
about perfect. With perhaps a million dollars in cash in the pockets 
of the spectators, with huge wagers being made and paid after 
every fight, with scores of rabid roosters murdering each other day 
after day, the nerves of the mob are stretched to the breaking point, 
long before the last day of the meeting and the atmosphere is 
charged with enough electricity to drag a fair-sized freight train, 

Last year, the added feature was provided by a stick-up man 
who crashed the gates, poked a thing that was cold and hard into 
the ribs of an elderly gentleman and walked off with five thousand 
dollars. The management of the International Tournament was 
much distressed. With so many strangers attending their shows, 
they found it almost impossible to guarantee that all were aristo- 
crats. But, this year, when the same elderly gentleman returned, 
he brought with him a cute little toy with a pearl handle and a 
determination to protect his roll at any cost. 

"I haven't so long to live anyway," he explained, "so the young 
fellow who held me up was laying the odds. If he tries'it again, I am 
going to call his bet." 

Fortunately, as far as could be learned, there were no stick-up 
men at the Nineteenth International Tournament, but the elderly 
gentleman who was victimized in 1937 just happens to be one of 
the sort that find it difficult to keep out of trouble. Although 
slightly uncoupled, he is as game as many a rooster, dearly loves 
his action and will take it where he finds it. On the second day of 
the meeting, he picked the majority of winners and returned to his 

Cock Doom Makes Everybody EauAE 279 

hotel with a satisfactory profit, but that evening a crap shooter 
visited his room and relieved him of a thousand dollars. 

Everything would have been perfectly all right had it not been 
for the fact that the elderly gentleman learned later that his visitor 
was a notorious pad roller and that he had undoubtedly been 
fleeced out of his hard-won money. Accordingly, when on the fol- 
lowing morning the dice player made the almost fatal mistake of 
visiting the cockpit, the elderly gentleman approached him there 
with the announced intention of shooting him through the blind 

"A hundred to ten on the grey cock," a fan called out at this 
moment. But, there were no takers. For one reason, the other 
chicken had just received a death rattle and the proper odds were 
a hundred to one he would never strike another blow and for an- 
other, the attention of most of the gathering was at that time 
directed to the little by-play in the bleachers. 

The elderly gentleman was maneuvering for a favorable posi- 
tion from which to perforate the pad roller and the latter was mak- 
ing a sincere and conscientious effort to melt into the crowd. About 
this time the law intervened, frisked the elderly gentleman of his 
pearl-handled trick and advised him that if he wanted it back he 
would have to apply at the sheriff's office on the following day. 
Ten minutes later, the dice player had disappeared and the inci- 
dent was forgotten. 

On Friday, January 29th, the final day of the Nineteenth In- 
ternational Tournament, the ultimate winner of the event was 
almost as much in doubt as at the opening. Of the sixteen entries, 
there were two each from Canada, New York State, Pennsylvania, 
Kentucky, Florida and Georgia; and one each from Alabama, 
Texas, Ohio and South Carolina. 

Of the New York stables, one had made a spendid showing with 
eight victories and four defeats, while the other was hopelessly out 
of the running with ten out of twelve setbacks. The Canadian 
entries were running neck and neck, one with six victories and the 
other with five, but neither had more than a remote chance of being 
in the money. Western Pennsylvania, with only five victories, was 
a lost cause, but Eastern Pennsylvania with seven, was still to be 
considered. Ohio, which had gotten off to a miserable start with 
six out of nine defeats, only to chalk up three straight victories, 
was a dark horse for place or show. 

280 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

But at this point, the shuffling devils of the south began to 
forge to the front. They struck with or without a billhold and 
when they clinched, they shuffled in the air, on the ground — or on 
their backs. They missed few openings and fought with the des- 
peration of Pickett, the sagacity of Robert E. Lee. 

The cocker from Georgia, with the reputed six million smack- 
ers, who, on the first day had lost his main to the fancier from On- 
tario with the reputed sixty million, was out for revenge. It was 
evident he had held his aces for the tournament and had used his 
second-string fowl in the main. They were in superb condition, 
dead game, aggressive and smart. 

Instead of diminishing, the betting doubled and redoubled. 
Those with their pockets full from having picked the majority of 
winners, were hungry for more, while the big losers gambled more 
desperately than ever in the hope that their luck would change. 
New York money was still strongly in evidence, but the odds 
abruptly shifted. 

"Any part of a thousand, New York wins the next fight," a 
gambler sang out and he was quickly covered for the entire amount. 
A few minutes later, the wise money was offering a hundred to 
eighty against New York, with few takers. 

As a matter of fact, this was the decisive battle of the tourna- 
ment. If New York won, they would be in a three-way tie for first, 
second and third money. If they lost, they would be unable to catch 
the leader from Georgia. 

And now, a superb Whitehackle from the north opposed a 
shuffling Dominick from Kentucky. The Whitehackle was a five 
times winner, the Dominick was one of the same strain of cyclonic 
body fighters as that which won the Seventeenth International 
Tournament in 1936. In appearance, they were both perfection, 
not a feather broken, their heads and bottoms the ruddy hue of 
perfect health, their red eyes glittering like rubies, their bodies 
hard, symmetrical and streamlined as are no other living creatures. 
But in performance, in style of battle, they were as different as 
Jack Dempsey and Tommy Loughran.* 

The Whitehackle was a boxer, the Dominick an in-fighter. And 
in long heels, a body fighting game cock is your best bet. 

To be sure, he takes a desperate chance as he bores in, but if his 
opponent misses, if he strikes but fails to reach a vital spot, if he 
permits the oncoming shuffler to get close enough to grab a beak 

Cock Doom Makes Everybody Equal 281 

full of hackle feathers and turn loose that bombardment of steel- 
clad feet, smashing with the rapidity of a machine gun and with 
enough force to drive a needle-pointed gaff through an inch plank 
— it is all over. And that is exactly what happened now. 

The Whitehackle flew high and struck hard. His left gaff 
pierced the tough wing feathers of the Dominick and sank into the 
other's breast, but the Dom, scornful of its injury, twisted and 
turned, dragging the other off-balance as he thrust hungrily for- 
ward for his bill hold. At last, the spur tore loose — but it was too 
late. In the split second before the Whitehackle could regain its 
balance, the Dominick had locked its powerful beak upon the long 
hackle feathers and with this leverage had launched its inexhaust- 
tible shuffle. Over and over they turned, for perhaps ten seconds, 
a seeming eternity, until at last the Dominick was on its back, still 
shuffling with its adversary already dead. 

Abruptly, the tournament was over. It hardly seemed possible. 
For five days, the hubbub of bets called and taken, the cries of 
jubilation, the groans of disappointment, the muffled sounds as the 
feathered warriors struck, at first powerfully, but weaker and 
weaker as the death struggle progressed, the monotone of the 
referee as he counted endlessly three tens and a twenty, the excited 
interruptions of the pitters as they cried : "Give it to me !" For five 
days, dead game creatures slew each other — until the feeling grew 
that the carnage would endure forever. 

There were still a dozen cocks matched in the tournament, and 
scores of alternates, but none of the owners had a chance to be in 
the money so they decided to save them for the hack fights the fol- 
lowing day. The Nineteenth International Tournament itself was 
cocking history. The gamblers who had won small fortunes could 
now relax, while the heavy losers were cloaked in a pall of gloom 
in the realization that there was no further chance to stage a come- 
back. Slowly, the crowd poured out of the canvas-covered cockpit 
to scan the great blackboard which contained the final results. 

The winner of the silver cup and first prize money of $4,000 
was Number 15, of Atlanta, Georgia. Second money of $2,500 and 
third monej 7 of $1,000 were divided between Number 7, of Pine 
Grove, Kentucky and Number 10, of Dallas, Texas. And three 
northern cockers, Number 2 from Ohio, Number 4 from Pennsyl- 
vania and Number 13 from New York State, optimists with every 
faith that their Whitehackles, Travelers and Speeders could pene- 

282 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

trate the deep south and compete with the shuffling furies of Dixie 
— were compelled to be content with an equal division of fourth and 
fifth money — which returned to each about three hundred dollars, 
or a small fraction of their expenses. 

"Cock doom makes everybody equal," a chicken philosopher 
observed. "But shufflers show best for the money." 

How to Case a Trout Stream 


August, 19 %3 

There was ill-concealed sniggering along the bank of the 
Madison river near the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, 
that evening when Dick Miller, fly rod in hand, stepped into 
the stream. 

It was just a little joke the guides of the region were going to 
have at the expense of the icthyologist, entomologist and world's 
record holding fly caster. 

You see, he had been up there the year before as plain Richard 
Miller of Huntington Beach, California, a small-town gas company 
superintendent out for a vacation and some casual fishing. The 
trouble was, that Miller had outguided the guides by locating for 
his party of friends the best spots and the biggest fish. 

So, when Dick and his party put in an appearance, the guides 
decided they would have a little fun. They got word to him that 
trout were striking insanely at this spot in the river. Actually, the 
stream had been hard fished; the water was high and roily and the 
number of trout caught all season wouldn't make one good mess. 

It was around noon when Miller walked down to "case" the 
stream. From his mass of equipment he took a thermometer and 
checked surface and depth temperatures. He gave light conditions 
the onceover with a meter. He studied the current, took water 
samples, made a minute study of insect life and otherwise explored 
the stream while the giggling guides, surrounded by a knot of 
citizens looked on. 

Along about two hours before sundown Miller returned, armed 
for action. The spectators followed him to the bank just to see the 
fun, because the man who fished by test tube, meter and thermom- 
eter was about to feel very foolish. 

Miller waded out into the stream. With careful, quartering 
casts he flipped a fly in long sweeps only a few inches over the 


284 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

water. Thirty or forty times the fly actionized back and forth in 
ever-lengthening loops. 

The silence was deafening. 

Then the fly dropped lightly on the rippling surface. At the 
same instant the stream became alive. The line tightened like a 
string on a fiddle. The rod bent in a beautiful arc and in no time 
at all Dick had landed a beautiful Loch Leven trout, weight four 

The fish didn't jump. He just sucked the fly under and imme- 
diately started down stream with it. 

There wasn't a laugh left in that knot of onlookers. Their eyes 
were bulging. Mouths were wide open. 

Miller added insult to injury. Within the hour he had landed 
seven fish with a weight limit of fifteen pounds. 

One of the citizens was heard to mumble something about "that 
guy" being able to catch trOut in a dusty street. Which Dick denies. 
He knows it isn't ichthyologically possible. 

"How did I know fish were there?" asked Miller. "Well, my 
studies showed May flies in a subaquatic state on the bottom of the 
stream. Temperature tests indicated that when the stream warmed 
later in the afternoon these would start hatching. 

"Anytime there is a surface hatch, trout are bound to come 
out to feed." 

It was simple, like that. And Miller had one more laugh com- 
ing at the expense of those guides. He told them there would be a 
similar hatch in August; sent some friends back up there at that 
time and they also caught weight limits. 

"My water samples did that. When I got back home I figured 
out the alchemistry from the water, and with my knowledge of the 
May fly I knew a hatch could be expected at that time." 

That's what you call putting a scientific twist to the famous 
expression that you have to be smarter than the fish to catch 'em. 
Miller's studies have convinced him of certain things which blast 
many fishing foibles. He says: 

1 — The light or dark of the moon has nothing whatever to do 
with whether fish are biting. 

2 — Direction of the wind has no eff ect on where and when trout 

3 — Air temperatures have no bearing. Some of his best catcher 
have been made during snow flurries. 

How to Case a Trout Stream 285 

4 — Trout definitely are color conscious. 

5 — Wet fly fishing is a misnomer. 

6 — Dry fly fishing is the least likely to succeed of all arti- 
ficial lures. 

Boiled down, his formula for trout fishing is to find out where 
trout are, what they are feeding on and present these insects in 
reasonably accurate facsimile. 

And he has some pet theories about fishing tackle that will not 
make the manufacturer happy. Although he has 8,000 dollars' 
worth of equipment, obtained for experimental purposes, he per- 
sonally uses a fifty dollar set of rod, reel and line. This business of 
spending two or three hundred dollars for equipment isn't going 
to impress the fish. Most of the lures, he contends, are made to 
attract the eye of the fisherman and not the fish. 

If you don't know (1) the habits of the trout, (£) the most 
intimate love and family life of lake and stream insects, and (3) 
proper mechanics of casting, the best equipment in the world won't 
help you catch trout. 

Although Dick has been fishing all his life, his experience in 
tournament fly casting is of recent vintage. In fact, he didn't 
realize he owned superior talent in this until he happened to run 
into Zane Grey, the late author and sportsman, while fishing for 
steelhead on the north fork of the Umqua river, in Oregon. 

Dick did not recognize the famous writer and fisherman when 
he happened onto him that day. The author complained that he 
wasn't able quite to reach a riffle in the river where he knew the 
fish were feeding. 

Miller offered to show him how he could lengthen his cast with 
a double pull on the line during the back cast. Grey tried it. The 
fly reached out to the desired spot and the fun was on. 

Dick had read of the national tournament being held in Port- 
land at the time and he began to wonder if perhaps he didn't have 
some knowledge not common in the game if he could help Zane 
Grey. So he went to the tournament — as a spectator. 

When he returned home, he started a series of experiments on 
a training program that pointed for the national championships 
the next year at Buffalo. 

As a dark-horse starter, he whipped a No. 12 trout fly out 
183 feet with a rod restricted in weight to five and three-quarters 
ounces. And he came up with three world's records including one 

286 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

of 1,058 feet for a total of six casts with a salmon and distance fly. 

Since that time he never has failed to come home with one title 
or another, and currently holds the Western salmon fly mark of 
209 feet which also is better than existing world records. 

"My catching ability promptly improved seventy-five per cent 
after I went into tournament casting," said Dick. 

To give you an idea of his ability, he can flick the ashes off a 
cigarette at fifty feet and can cast a five-ounce plug between the 
goal posts the length of a regulation football field with a light 
bait casting rod. 

In casting, he considers accuracy the first item of importance 
but only a fraction above distance. They go hand in hand, he 

"There is one fundamental rule in casting," he explains. "The 
rod is a spring. The line is the weight that propels the leader and 
fly to its objective. 

"In order to get rod spring there is only one arc, whether ap- 
plied horizontally or vertically. The power application in fly cast- 
ing is with the forearm swinging from the elbow, not the wrist. It 
starts at 10 o'clock on the watch with 12 pointed straight up. You 
swing the rod back to 12, hesitate long enough to permit the line 
to unfold back of you ; let the rod tip go back to 1 o'clock and then 
whip the rod back to 10. 

"Casting a line with a narrow loop enables you to drop the fly 
on the water before the leader and line alight." 

For all practical purposes, the fisherman who masters this tech- 
nique can cast accurately with as much as 120 feet of line in 
the air. 

"Keep the fly in the air, sweeping it back and forth as close to 
the spot of placement as possible. If you do this in dry fly fishing, 
you never need to use oil to dry the lure. It dries out in the air. 
And there is still another advantage. That fly in flight tantalizes 
the trout. 

"You determine the proper time to let the fly drop in the 
water by the ripples on the surface, caused by the movement of 
the fish." 

Presentation of the fly, he insists, is the most important ele- 
ment to dry fly fishing, because the trout has no time to study the 
insect in flight. Entirely secondary is the type of fly used ; its color 
and its makeup. 

How to Case a Trout Stream 287 

"And don't let anyone tell you a trout is color-blind," he cau- 
tions. "In fact, I am firmly convinced that it is very conscious of 
color. I have made numerous tests in casting tanks to prove the 
point for my own satisfaction. 

"A number of years ago the late Art Neu of Newark, New 
Jersey visited me. A foremost bait fisherman and staunch believer 
in the theory that trout cannot detect color, he made a series of 
tests with me on fishing trips into the High Sierras of California. 
He too, was convinced, when he departed." 

The filtration of light through the hackles of a fly gives it 
the resemblance to insect types and Miller always goes fishing 
equipped to tie any fly conditions may dictate. In this, his study of 
refracted light gives him a lot of help and not a few of his fly 
patterns are revolutionary. 

Wet fly fishing, he contends, is largely a misnomer. A wet fly, 
as such, says he, is a dead female insect and a very small source 
of food supply for trout. 

By the same token, the dry fly fishing is limited, due to the 
fact that the actual hours when insects are hatching is small by 

Aquatic fly fishing, on the other hand, is a bug of a different 

"Unfortunately," says our expert, "only a few of the hundreds 
of thousands of trout fishermen in this country are conversant with 
the fishing by aquatic or 'nymph' fly, although the facts of the 
case are that your chances of good catches are greatest with these. 

"Any entomologist will tell you that stream and lake insects 
spend the greater share of their lives in the sub-aquatic stage. 
Since there are few hatches of the dry fly stage taking place, it 
stands to reason that a fisherman, to be successful, must acquire 
the skill of fishing with the aquatic fly. 

"The casting of this lure is much the same as that of the dry 
fly, except that you drop it delicately in 'dead' water in the current 
and let it float naturally to the fish." 

Each type of aquatic fly, Miller explains, requires a different 
actionization in order to simulate movement of the nymph in 

The Caddis fly, for example, is a slow-moving insect. So the 
line after the cast is taken up with the left hand, coiling it as you 
give the rod short, jerking motions. 

288 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

There are several hundred types of May fly, which range in 
size, so Miller governs the action given the lure to the type found 
in the particular waters he is fishing. In general, though, the May 
fly floats with the current — does not fight it. So he uses the drift- 
cast, fishing up stream. 

The Stone fly, on the other hand, is a fast-moving insect so it 
is best cast down stream and retrieved up stream. It usually is 
larger than other aquatic insects. The best way to handle it is to 
cast across stream, quartering down stream with the current. The 
line should be stripped in slowly, and in long jerks. 

The water shrimp does not move in the water. It just twists 
with the current. So you drop this fly into swift water and let it 
drift toward quiet spots. 

"Choice of the dry or the aquatic fly," he reasons, "depends on 
the temperature of the water, which determines the metamorphosis 
that is taking place in the insect. 

"If the water is below 44 degrees, then it is so cold no meta- 
morphosis is taking place. That is, the insects are in the sub-imago 
and are dormant. 

"As the temperature rises, this sub-imago state goes into the 
imago — or living, adult aquatic or 'nymph' insect. It is from that 
stage that they hatch off the top of the water to the winged, full 
adult form. This occurs in water where the temperature is between 
50 and 60 degrees." 

You might suppose that a man such as this, who started as a 
boy in his study of fishing by reading Ronald's The Fly Fisher's 
Entomology, written in 1862 and George L. M. LaBranche's Dry 
Fly in Fast Water, would also watch the almanac and consult the 

Not a fellow like Dick Miller! 

"I never have subscribed to such theories. Trout feed when 
there is food at hand and hunger exists regardless of whether the 
nights are moonlight or not. 

"Neither have I ever found any proof that the barometric con- 
ditions have any effect whatever on whether fish are feeding. Since 
water density is greater than that of the air, the pressure changes 
of the air would have an absurdly inconsequential effect on water 
pressures. Temperature of the water, and that alone, determines 
when and how and where trout feed." 

What to do if fish are not feeding on insects? 

How to Case a Trout Stream 289 

Dick has that answer, too. Purist that he is, Miller disdains 
turning to spinner or bait to accomplish his purpose. He trusts 
to ingenuity and takes advantage of a trout's cannibalistic ten- 

The streamer fly is his answer. If Loch Leven are in the stream, 
the streamer matches in color, size, etc., a Loch Leven minnow. Each 
type of trout prefers its own kind. So if it is Rainbow you seek, the 
streamer resembles the colorful Rainbow. Most trout, except Brook, 
are inclined to devour their own. 

Naturally, this leads to a different type of fly fishing and 
usually nets you larger fish as well. For example, Miller always 
fishes a streamer fly down stream. This is because a minnow is fast. 
He picks out runs in the current that will carry his lure into deep 
pools or pockets where large fish wait for an unsuspecting young- 

"After the current carries the line taut," says Miller, "you start 
retrieving with long, sweeping jerks. This is important in order to 
get the action of a minnow in the lure. You must drop the streamer 
fly so that, in retrieving, it comes as close as possible to the trout. 
The fish will not hit it as it floats. Only when the retrieving brings 
an eagle-spread action of the hackles does it resemble a minnow. 
And you have to vary the action according to the type and to 
the flow of the water." 

Accomplishing all the fine points of casting and actionizing the 
lure still will not get you fish, according to Miller, if you overlook 
the part that light rays play in the game. That's why he takes a 
light meter along. 

The gauge tells Miller a lot of things, from the type of fly and 
its colorations to the need of properly hiding yourself from the 
fish. And Dick is a stickler on this latter point. 

For that reason, he recommends that you fish early in the 
morning or late in the afternoon. A direct sun makes you a strik- 
ing target from a fish-eye view. The amount of shade covering a 
stream, and the clearness and depth of the water figure into the 

"A trout has a 90-degree arc of vision," Miller contends. "The 
prismatic action of the water telegraphs your presence like a mag- 
nifying glass. Place a string on the top of a tub of clear water and 
see for yourself the multiplied size of its reflection on the bottom. 

"The more shallow the stream the more important this matter 

290 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

of refracting light. So a good fisherman must practice stealth in 
his approach to likely fishing spots." 

Realizing the light problem in fishing, you can appreciate the 
test of fishing skill that Miller was put to when Warner Bros. 
motion picture studio decided to use him for a short subject. 

The idea, as Director Del Frazier first visioned it, was to show 
Dick doing some of his fancy casting feats. But it grew to the 
point where it was decided to do some color shots of him in action 
on a stream. So Miller, the director, cameraman, grips and a couple 
of trucks of equipment set out for the Owens river, 200 miles into 
the mountains from the studio. 

When they arrived, Miller immediately decided on a likely spot 
and went into his routine while the stage was set and sun reflectors 
were adjusted. You have to have lots of light for color pictures, 
even at the expense of catching fish. 

Before matters had gone too far, disappointed anglers came 
wandering along. When they found out what was up, each advised 
in his solemn way that all hands were wasting their time. It seemed 
fishing had been bad for several days and none of any size had been 

But Miller was obstinate. He studied the pool. Tests led him 
to believe the fish were feeding on the bottom on Caddis fly in the 
imago state. 

Certainly, this was the acid test. Under the most ideal condi- 
tions it was a tough thing to catch fish for the motion picture 
camera. Yet, here was Miller, with his streamcraft and casting 
skill exposed to the prying eyes of all, like a nudist standing on 
Times Square. He was open to ridicule and was chancing the loss 
of hundreds of feet of expensive movie film for the director. 

Dick waded out in the face of all the pessimistic forecasts and 
delivered himself of one of his most expert casts. Nothing happened. 
He tried it a second time ; a third and a fourth. Still nothing gave. 
The nimrods who had been whipping the stream all day without 
success took on that I-told-you-so expression. 

Once more Miller flicked the fly far out over a likely pool and 
let the now sodden line settle. Then he started actionizing the lure 
by slowly retrieving and coiling the line in the fingers of his left 
hand as the right worked the rod. Always the line was taut, the 
right forefinger keen to the slightest pull. 

Then something happened. The forefinger tightened, pinching 

How to Case a Trout Stream 291 

the line against the rod. But Dick didn't flick the rod in the least. 
He simply let the trout hook himself. 

Pessimism gave way to excited chatter, with the camera's whirr 
now drowned out. Miller forgot the picture making, as he carefully 
played his catch, keeping the line tight. When he slipped the net 
under it, he brought up a four and a quarter pound trout. 

Then he promptly caught two more out of that same hole for 
the edification of the screen, while those who had worked the spot 
all day, shook their heads in amazement. 

And there had been only 100 feet of waste film in the whole 
scene ! 

Miller's fetish for fly fishing is the same as that of the man who 
refuses to shoot a duck on the water. But there is more to it than 
just that. He thinks he catches more fish than the bait or spinner 

Of course, his best-catch records may suffer a little by com- 
parison since he does no trolling. 

"It's every man to his own device, of course," says Dick. 

"I don't consider bait fishing sporting. Fly fishing is an art. 
Bait fishing isn't. And, on top of that, you generally will catch 
more and larger fish with a properly handled fly." 

He submits his records to prove his point : 

Loch Leven — Twelve and a half pounds. Caught on No. 14 
Gray Hackle. Owens River, California. 

Rainbow (steelhead) — Fifteen pounds. Caught on Coykendahl 
fly (imitation of steelhead minnow) No. £. Umqua River, Oregon. 

Rainbow (landlock) — Four and a half pounds. Caught on 
No. 12 special May fly. Madison River, Montana. 

Eastern Brook — Three and a half pounds. Dark Mosquito, No. 
10 hook. Never Sink River, New York. 

Golden — Two and a half pounds. Light Caddis, No. 10 hook. 
Volcano Creek, California. 

But these records were not kept for boasting purposes. They 
are part of specific and minute data in scientific form kept for pur- 
poses of study. At his home, Miller has a dozen filing cabinet 
drawers full of these records. Each fishing excursion has a file 
that includes a topographical map of the area fished, along with a 
complete report on water temperatures; types of insects found; 
record of fish caught ; condition and chemical analysis of the water 
and a sample of the fly or flies used. In each report he makes an 

292 Esquire's First Sports Reader 

observation of the effects of the chemicals in the water on both the 
fish and insects. 

His observations, for example, on the conditions of Volcano 
Creek are that the colorations and chemistry of the water there 
are responsible for the trout being golden, since this is the original 
home of that species of fish. He is confident that in time, golden 
trout planted elsewhere will lose that rich color. 

These reports also have brought Miller to the conclusion that 
fish and game commissions, in running hatcheries and planting fish 
in streams each year, are doing the thing backward. 

He firmly believes that planting aquatic insects in streams 
where the water is soft and neutralized will bring a prompt in- 
crease in the number of fish; that the quantity of food regulates 
the size of the fish family. 

It is from these files also that he has obtained much of his 
theory not only in the way to fish, but in the kind of equipment 
to use. 

For dry fly fishing he uses a tapered line. For the aquatic fly 
a level line is good enough. And he scrapes off the enamel so that 
it will easily become waterlogged and sink. Dick, you see, never 
uses sinkers. 

His tournament work, plus the archives, all contribute to his 
belief that the secret of casting a good fly rests a lot in having the 
correct, tapered leader and he has worked out a table for this on 
the basis of the size of fly used. 

The butt end of the leader, or heavy end, should be three- 
quarters the diameter of the line it is attached to. Here is the table 
for the sizes at the tapered end : 

No. 14 to 16 flies — 1% foot leader tapered to 4X (app. 5000th 

No. 10 to 12 flies— 10 foot leader tapered to IX (app. 9000th 

No. 6 to 10 flies — 9 foot leader tapered to Fina. (app. .010th 
diameter) . 

Now, you may think this is going at the business of outsmart- 
ing a trout the hard way, but Dick says the thrill as well as the 
frying pan satisfaction you get out of it more than repays a 
fisherman for his effort. 

And you don't have to dig up that stock one about the biggest 
fish getting away, when the boys at the office confront you after 
your angling excursions. Not if you do it the Dick Miller way. 


Due Returned 





HEALTH & p Hvs . BD< 

Esquire's First sports reader, main 

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